Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)

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What is Ropa Vieja?

Have you ever eaten old clothes? Well of course not! However, this Cuban dish is named just that. Ropa Vieja means old clothes on Spanish. Let me tell you, old clothes have never tasted so good!

So legend has is that a poor penniless man couldn’t afford to feed his family. It’s said that he shredded and cooked his old clothes in a pot over a fire and prayed for a miracle. As he prayed the pot bubbled and slowly turned his clothes into a delicious meat stew. Don’t worry we’re not going to be getting out our old clothes but we are going to be using a delicious piece of flank steak to make shredded beef for this recipe. Let’s get cooking!

Don’t forget to save the broth for the soup that accompanies the ropa vieja. We get two dishes in one. The soup uses the rich decadent beef broth and then we add fresh vegetables, potatoes, malanga and fideo.

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)

Difficulty: Easy Prep Time 150 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 2 hrs 50 mins Servings: 4


Braising the Beef

Finishing Sauce


  1. As you get to know me I love cooking in a Dutch oven and this recipe is no exception. However, if you don't have one or you are short on time an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker can be used too. Either of the cookers will have the steak done in 40-45 minutes. For either way first sear the flank steak in some olive oil on both sides about five minutes per side. If using the Dutch oven sear in pot and cover meat with 2 boxes of beef broth which is about 64 ounces. If you don't have any broth on hand plain water can be used but I like the added depth of flavor from using beef broth. Add a whole bell pepper that has been seeded and the stem removed. Cover and cook in the oven at 325 degrees for 2.5 to 3 hours. The house will begin to smell so delicious be the end of the cooking time. When the steak is done let rest and cool in the broth for about 30 minutes so it stays moist and tender. Remove and discard cooked bell pepper.
  2. While steak is resting chop an onion and a bell pepper. Smash or grate 15-20 cloves of garlic.
  3. Remove steak to a cutting board and reserve 1 cup of broth for the Ropa Vieja and save the rest for the soup which I will show you how to make next. In a saute pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and start cooking the peppers and onions. After they are tender add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Next add 12 ounces of pureed cherry tomatoes and continue cooking.
  4. While the sauce is forming cut the flank steak into 1 1/2 inch pieces and as shredding the meat remove any veins that you might find.
  5. Add the meat to the sauce. Add in the cup of reserved broth Add salt to taste. Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro. Cover and continue to cook on low for another 10 to 20 minutes. Let the meat reabsorb all of the flavors of the sauce we just made. Serve over a bed of white rice and a side of avocado salad and enjoy!
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