Ropa Vieja (Cuban Braised Shredded Beef)

I’ve made one of Chris Kimball’s older recipe for Ropa Vieja which used a slow-cooker, but today’s recipe uses a more traditional technique of browning the beef and cooking for 2 hours in the oven. It was much more flavorful and is a definite improvement over the older recipe. The recipe calls for brisket, which naturally has a very distinctive grain that lends itself perfectly towards shredding. The recipe was very well seasoned, though not at all “hot”. Next time I may add a Jalapeno or two. Overall, a delicious recipe; 4-stars.

Traditional cooking method is best

Traditional cooking method is best

In my experience Ropa Vieja is always served with white rice, but Chris Kimball has a recipe for beans and rice here.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $26.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 2:00 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared the soup today are given below:

2-pound beef brisket
Table salt and pepper
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, halved and sliced thin
2 red bell peppers
2 anchovy fillets
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped coarse
3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning

  1. Set a rack to lower/middle of your oven and pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Trim the fat on your brisket down to 1/4-inch. Slice the brisket against the grain into 2″-wide strips. The precise length isn’t that important, but cut any strips that are longer than 5″ in half to reduce their length. Pat beef dry using paper towels and season all sides with salt and pepper. Set a Dutch Oven over medium-high burner and pre-heat 4 tablespoons (1/4-cup) vegetable oil until it just begins to smoke. Brown all sides of the beef for a total of 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a large plate at set aside until Step 7.
  3. While the meat browns, prepare the vegetables by slicing the onions in half, peel and sliced thin. Remove the stem and seeds from your bell peppers, and slice into 1/4″-wide strips.
  4. When the pot is empty, add the onions and bell peppers and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the pan bottom develops a fond. Empty the vegetables to bowl and set aside.
  5. While the onions and peppers cook, rinse your anchovies, pat them dry using paper towels and mince. Also peel and mince your garlic.
  6. Add 1 more tablespoon oil to now-empty pot, Add minced anchovies, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook for 30 seconds until they become fragrant. Stir in wine, and de-glaze the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute until mostly evaporated. Add broth, tomato sauce, and bay leaves.
  7. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot and bring up to a simmer over high burner. Move pot to 300-degree oven and cook, covered, for 2 to 2-1/4 hours until the beef is just tender; flipping meat after 1 hour.
  8. Remove beef to cutting board and allow to cool for 10 minutes until cool enough to handle.  Pull apart into 1/4″-thick pieces.
  9. Fish out bay leaves from pot and discard. Chop olives and add to pot along with the onions/peppers reserved in Step 4. Bring up to a boil over medium-high burner and allow to thicken for 5 minutes. Mix in the shredded beef and add vinegar. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper according to your taste.

9 Responses to Ropa Vieja (Cuban Braised Shredded Beef)

  1. Do you just have anchovy filets laying around? Presumably you are opening a tin of them and then what? Do they keep? I’d never eat one but I’d cook with them just not right away. What do you do?

  2. Hilda says:

    Hi Mark, en Venezuela a el plato de ropa vieja le llaman carne mechada. Hace parte del plato tipico que consta de carne mechada, arroz blanco, tajadas, huevos fritos, y queso blanco rallado. Ademas, La carne mechada se sirve con arepas(super rico). Hace mucho tiempo no como carne mechada. Gracias por traerlo a mi recuerdo.

  3. Hilda says:

    El Venezolano prepara las arepas con una harina que se llama “Harina Pan” Aqui en Florida la compro en cualquier mercado en la seccion hispana. Solo hay que mezclar la harina con agua y sal al gusto. Las puedes fritar o asar, como mejor te guste. La carne mechada que preparaste anteriormente le vendria como anillo al dedo.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Michael Dillon: If your grocery has an Italian ingredients section, check it out for anchovies. The anchovies I use come in a jar. I store them in the fridge after opening, and they last just fine. I do have to remember though, to take them out at least an hour before using, because the olive oil they are packed in becomes something like super glue in the cold.

  5. beachgirl says:

    This recipe seems really different than the slow cooker recipe -think I could make this one in the slow cooker and it would work out?

    • Yes, this recipe is about 1 year old and uses more traditional techniques than a slow cooker. This recipe uses the oven to brown the beef; so you would have to brown in a skillet before putting in a slow-cooker. Well, actually you could brown anything to add the flavor (doesn’t have to be the beef).

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