Slow-Cooker Ropa Vieja

A classic Latin American dish made of shredded beef with bell peppers and onions in a tomato-based sauce. This version is made in a slow-cooker and is from his book, The Best Slow and Easy Recipes. But Chris Kimball also has a version using traditional, non-slow-cooker cooking methods, which cooks in just 2-1/2 hours (versus 10 for slow-cooker).

Classic Latin American dish; shredded beef in peppers and onions.

Recipe is here. Saute two onions, tomato paste, garlic in non-stick skillet for 8 minutes, then deglaze the pan using water. Cut the flank steak into 3-inch squares. Add the sauteed onions, meat, 1/4 cup soy sauce and 2 bay leaves to slow cooker, cook on low for 9 to 11 hours. Afterward, remove meat, let cool and shred using two forks.

Sautee 4 bell peppers, 1 sliced onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large Dutch for 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and cumin and cook about 1 minute. Stir in 1/2-cup white wine, a can of tomatoes, 1/2-cup minced olives, and 2 cups cooking liquid reserved from the meat, and cook until the peppers are soft and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Finally add meat back to reheat and combine flavors, add parsley and vinegar.

Rating: 4-star. Overall the recipe has great flavor, but lacked heat (spiciness). Also the texture was a little too watery.


  1. I cooked for 11 hours in slow cooker, but the meat came apart too completely. I would recommend closer to 9 to 10 hours.
  2. Bell peppers are more sweet than spicy, so the recipe definitely lacked some heat.  Next time I will try adding 4 minced jalapenos.
  3. The texture was too watery. I let the liquid cook down for 15 minutes. Next time I’ll let it cook down even further or add some plain gelatin.
  4. I substituted cilantro for regular parsley, because I already had cilantro in my refrigerator (and because I think it is more authentic).
  5. While I started the recipe at 6 AM, (about 20 minutes of work in the morning), I didn’t have to do anything more until 5 PM.
  6. I took the picture before pouring the sauce over the rice, but don’t forget when eating.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $16.50 (fed 5 adults and 4 kids)
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 6:00 AM.  Ready:  6:00 PM

8 Responses to Slow-Cooker Ropa Vieja

  1. kxx says:

    I don’t know how long you’ve been with CI, but Chris HATES spicy food. Bland eastern food is kinda the rule. Anything that calls for green peppers, I use anaheims; and to thicken a sauce, consider using instant tapioca.

  2. Yes, I grew up in California so generally rely on my own experience when cooking Mexican food. But Ropa Vieja is supposed to be mild, but the seeded bell peppers came up way short.

    Oh, yes, instant tapioca would be better if I include it in the slow-cooker. (I was thinking gelatin after slow cooking, but your suggestion is better).


  3. kxx says:

    I’m from California (Bakersfield) as well, really miss good Mexican food. Rick Bayless/Diana Kennedy don’t do it for me at all. I just got “A Gringo’s Guide to Mexican Cooking” by Mad Coyote Joe. Looks promising

    I consider Anaheims to be mild….

  4. Now I am living in Northern NJ (about 20 miles from NYC). How I miss those days when delicious Mexican food could simply be purchased from the ubiquitous and inexpensive Mexican restaurants. Now, I must cook everything myself.

    • kxx says:

      I’m 60 miles south of Rochester, NY. One place to find Mexican ingredients is Wegman’s. I think there’s one around you. Actually found Queso Blanco there, and Masa Harina, among others. Fortunately, I live near a college town so there’s variety.

  5. Cesar de la Guardia says:

    Ropa vieja is not Mexcian but Cuban. The Cuban trinity: green peppers, garlic and onions (many times you add oregano, tomatoes and cumin (no hot peppers)

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