ROPA VIEJA IS ONE OF CUBA'S NATIONAL DISHES AND ALSO ONE OF THE FIRST MEALS I EVER MADE AT THE FIREHOUSE. WHEN I STARTED COOKING THIS EARLY IN MY CAREER I WOULD USE JARRED SOFRITO WHICH IS THE BASE OF THE DISH CONSISTING OF ONIONS, GARLIC, PEPPERS AND TOMATOES. BUT NOTHING BEATS MAKING IT FROM SCRATCH AS IT ALLOWS ALL THE FLAVORS TO DEVELOP ON THEIR OWN. AND IN CASE YOU ARE WONDERING WHAT ROPA VIEJA MEANS, IT TRANSLATES TO "OLD CLOTHES" BECAUSE AS THE BEEF SHREDS IT RESEMBLES TORN OLD CLOTHES. BUT DON'T LET THE NAME FOOL YOU....IT'S DELICIOUS!
THIS DISH IS PERFECT FOR THE FIREHOUSE AS IT CAN SIT ON THE STOVE OR IN THE SLOW-COOKER WITHOUT FEAR OF IT OVER COOKING IF THE BELL HITS!
1.5 - 2 LB. FLANK STEAK
1 YELLOW ONION, sliced
2 BELL PEPPERS, seeded / sliced
1 CUBANELLE PEPPER, seeded / sliced
1 JALAPENO, seeded / sliced
2 GARLIC CLOVES, thin sliced
3 SMALL CARROTS, peeled / diced (optional)
28oz. CAN OF DICED TOMATO
1 CUP BEEF BROTH
1 TBS. DRIED OREGANO
1 Tsp. CUMIN
HANDFUL OF FRESH CILANTRO, rough chopped
KOSHER SALT, to taste
In a large Dutch oven or deep saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the steak dry and season liberally with salt. Place the steak in the pan, searing both sides until nicely browned. Remove and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and a small pinch of salt. Cook the onions until soft and just starting to brown. Add the peppers, garlic, cumin and oregano, cooking until the garlic just starts to turn pale brown. Add the diced tomatoes with the juice, stir and cook until most of the juice has reduced. Add the beef stock, bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, slice the flank steak across the grain into 1 1/2" slices and place into the simmering pan. Cover and cook for about 1.5 hours. When the steak is fork tender, remove and set aside. Add the carrots (if using) to the pan and reduce the sauce uncovered until it is thickened, approximately 15 minutes. While the sauce is reducing, shred the steak and add back to the pan.
When the sauce is the right consistency, squeeze in the limes and add the chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with rice and beans.
*NOTE: Traditionally this dish is usually made with green olives and sometimes capers. Feel free to add these as well.