Ropa Vieja for #SundaySupper

by Renee on January 6, 2013

Ropa Vieja | Magnolia Days

What is on your culinary bucket list? My list is very long. It’s a good thing because I have a several reasons to tackle them. The reasons are to try new things, learn techniques, and share them here on this blog. Plus it keeps me from getting into a routine or rut which is something I do quite well. Yes, look up creature of habit and there is my photo. Anyway, it was time to make something to check off my list. I chose to make Ropa Vieja.

What is Ropa Vieja? It is a Cuban or Caribbean shredded beef dish. The name is Spanish and it translates to “Old Clothes”. I’ve read lots of different stories about how it was named that and I’m not sure which one is correct. However it was named is to be determined. What has been determined for sure is how good it is. (Source = me). I’ve enjoyed it from the moment I first tried it many years ago at a local restaurant.

Cafe Chavez was that local Cuban restaurant. We decided to go there one night after hearing many rave reviews. We sat down and had no clue what to order. One of us chose Ropa Vieja. We dove in when the plate of shredded beef served over rice arrived at the table. The tomato-y, pepper-y, cumin flavored sauce was unlike any other I had before. It instantly made me a Cuban food fan. Sadly, the restaurant closed several years ago. Since then I’ve only had Ropa Vieja a few times. I always wanted to make it at home and never did. That is, until Isabel challenged the Sunday Supper team to make something from their culinary bucket list.

The variety of recipes this week is incredible. Many different cuisines are featured. There is something for everyone:

Sunday Supper Specialty Breads:

Sunday Supper Main Dishes:

Sunday Supper Desserts and Snacks:

Are you ready to tackle your culinary bucket list? I’m one down and lots to go. Perhaps my next one will be a recipe in today’s event. They all look so good. Choices, choices…

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here → Sunday Supper Movement.

One note about the recipe: It is a very good version of Ropa Vieja. It is similar to the way I have had it at a few Cuban restaurants. I do intend to tweak it in the future. I want it to be more like the one I had at Cafe Chavez long ago. At least I can say I tackled one of my culinary bucket list items. Fine tuning it will be just as fun as making it the first time.

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

  • 3 pounds skirt or flank steak, trimmed
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 garlic cloves, divided (3 crushed & 3 minced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 onion, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups braising liquid plus additional if desired
  • 1 can (14- to 16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, drained and chopped

In a 6 or 7-quart soup pot or dutch oven, add beef, water, carrots, large onion, celery, bay leaf, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Loosely cover and simmer 1 1/2 to 3 hours, until beef is tender (easy to shred). Remove pot from heat and cool meat in liquid 30 minutes. Transfer meat to a container and cover. Strain braising liquid into a bowl using a colander. Press on the solids to press out liquid. Discard solids. Return braising liquid to the pot and boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Cool braising liquid completely, cover, and refrigerate it and the beef separately overnight.

Pull meat into shreds using two forks. Set aside.

In the soup pot, cook green bell pepper and sliced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally.

To the pepper/onion mixture add shredded meat, 2 cups braising liquid, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Loosely cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a large skillet cook red and yellow bell peppers in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Add softened peppers to the pot with additional braising liquid if needed to thin or to desired consistency. Stir to combine and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Stir in peas and olives. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm over white or yellow rice.

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Recipe adapted from one on Epicurious.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

The Ninja Baker January 6, 2013 at 5:41 am

What a spicy splash into the New Year, Renee. Muchos gracias for this invite to a taste of Cuban food. My husband is a huge onion, garlic and tomato fan and I love anything with rice and veggies sooo it looks like a perfect #SundaySupper =)

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Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips January 6, 2013 at 6:28 am

This sounds so yummy, Renee. I am thinking it could easily be left to cook in a crockpot, then finished off with the pepper mixture before serving to make it a weeknight supper.

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Liz January 6, 2013 at 8:29 am

What an amazing looking dish, Renee…I’ve never tasted it, but that shredded beef is calling to me. I think this would be hubby approved, too. BTW, I made your brownie tart yesterday and took it to some friends for dinner last night…whoa, was it wonderful!!!!

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Paula @ Vintage Kitchen January 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

I never tried ropa vieja. This recipe has all ingredients that are used here to make a very comforting dish that is basically tomato sauce with meat, and that is eaten with pasta. The idea of shredding the beef is perfect! A wonderful recipe Renée!

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Family Foodie January 6, 2013 at 8:40 am

I think I just added one more thing to my bucket list… I can’t wait to try this beautiful dish. You made it look fabulous!

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sunithi January 6, 2013 at 8:58 am

Love this ! Cuban beef sounds lovely. Will be trying this :)

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Susan January 6, 2013 at 9:04 am

I will gladly dig into a plate of that with you! Looks fabulous and I love all the flavor combinations.

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Stacy January 6, 2013 at 9:17 am

This is one of my favorite things, Renee, but I’ve never tried to make it. Another dish for my bucket list!

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Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts January 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

What an interesting translation of the name! Looks incredible, so tender and full of flavor!

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Patti January 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

This looks incredible Renee! Perfect winter meal! Happy Sunday!

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Tara January 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

This looks very good and different, something I have never had before. Love exploring new recipes. Thanks for sharing!!

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Katie January 6, 2013 at 9:56 am

This sounds like such a flavorful and awesome dish! Thanks for sharing :)

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Nicole @ Daily Dish Recipes January 6, 2013 at 11:14 am

Renee this is absolutely gorgeous – I love all the flavors and I need to add this to my to try list very soon!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Thanks Nicole!

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Heather @girlichef January 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

Okay, admission time – I have never tried Ropa Vieja! I know, I know… It’s something that I’ve always wanted to try…always meant to make…but as of yet, have not. I do want to dive into the screen and steal your plate, it looks so darn good!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Thanks Heather! Just add it to your list of to-cook things this year and don’t let the year pass by without tackling it.

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Jen @ Juanita's Cocina January 6, 2013 at 11:26 am

This is seriously one of my favorite foods in the world. Yours looks amazing!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Thanks Jen! I hope you try my version one day.

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Chris Baccus January 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

It amazes me how Cuban food hasn’t taken off in this country. It has some wonderful flavors and Ropa Vieja is a great example of that. Thanks for sharing. I’ll have give it a try at home soon too.

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Thanks Chris. I agree that Cuban food hasn’t taken off as much as it should have. It is so good.

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Bea January 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

This sounds like a dish all of us would love. Yum!!! It looks fantastic, Renee.

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Thanks Bea! I hope it fits in your dietary needs for your kids. Or I’m sure you could adapt it easily.

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Wendy (TheWeekend Gourmet) January 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Yum…this looks amazing!! I’m betting it would be great wrapped in a tortilla as well!!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Oh yes! I think I will do that the next time I make it.

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The Wimpy Vegetarian January 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm

This looks like a perfect meal on a winter evening after a day spent in the snow. Perfect!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Oh yes! It is nice and comforting.

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Katy January 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I love Latin American food, and this looks absolutely delicious! What a great recipe to have ticked off your bucket list!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm

And now so much more to tackle. There are still so many International cuisines I haven’t cooked yet.

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Lyn @LovelyPantry January 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm

This looks so good! Never heard of Ropa Vieja before… just saying out loud sounds delicious! I would love to try Cuban food!!!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I was wondering if there was a similar dish to this in Jamaica. Maybe, maybe not? Let me know if you can think of one. (or share it on your blog).

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Carla January 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Thanks for explaining what this is! I have never heard of it (not that I eat Cuban food or anything). And I think for photographing beef, you did a fine job! There’s color plus the meat is distinct (as opposed to being saucy and everything blended together).

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Thanks Carla! What a wonderful compliment on my photography. It’s getting better thanks to help from people like you.

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Emily @ Life on Food January 6, 2013 at 7:04 pm

This is my go to Cuban dish. Yours looks great. I am so happy to have a recipe now.

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Thank you Emily.

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Hezzi-D January 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm

While the name “old clothes” does nothing for me, this dish looks lovely and sounds packed with flavors.

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

“Old Clothes” is a strange name. One day I’ll find the true story of how it got that name.

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Nancy @ gottagetbaked January 6, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Renee, I love Cuban food but can only ever get it when I visit the US. If there’s a good Cuban place in Vancouver, I’d love it if someone could point me in its direction! This looks and sounds amazing! So flavourful. Wish I had a big plate of it right now.

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

There isn’t many Cuban places around me either. Miami has bunches of them (of course) and people there are so lucky to have many options.

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Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious January 7, 2013 at 12:49 am

Love the flavors in this! I think I’ll have to tackle this one weekend too!

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Anita at Hungry Couple January 7, 2013 at 8:32 am

Good for you! I’ve never had this dish but it looks wonderful and I’m sure I’d love it.

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm

If you love beef, peppers, and tomatoes it is the dish for you.

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Megan January 7, 2013 at 11:41 am

YUMMMM! I live right down the street from the historical original Columbia Restaurant and this is their signature dish. I love it. I want it now!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Thanks Megan. I’ll have to look up that restaurant and see what they have to say about it since it is their signature dish.

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Linda | The Urban Mrs January 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm

You really got me on this – I love Cuban food and this will go into my ‘must-try’ list. This looks so yummy and flavorful, and I can’t wait to give it a try.

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Thank you Linda! I still have a few more Cuban dishes that are on my bucket list. I can’t wait to try them and share them here so stay tuned.

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Sarah January 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

So wish I could handle the meat, I’d have this every day!

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Renee January 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Thanks Sarah!

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Jennie @themessybakerblog January 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Renee, this shredded beef dish looks amazing. My husband would adore this dish. It’s going on “The List.”

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Renee January 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

Thanks Jennie!

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Laura | Small Wallet, Big Appetite January 8, 2013 at 1:54 am

I love Cuban food so much. I have always wanted to go to Cuba. As soon as I get my British passport hubby says we will take a trip there. Unless of course the US finally stops being silly about the Cuba traveling ban for US citizens. But in the mean while enjoying amazing food like this will have to keep me going.

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Renee January 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

Thanks Laura! Hopefully you will get to go to Cuba one day. Until then we will have to enjoy the food at home or where we can find it.

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Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom January 8, 2013 at 10:04 am

Renee,
This dish looks great and so elegant! I love a good shredded beef/pork. . anything! Looks divine and thanks for sharing!

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kelly @ kellybakes January 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I love filling my apartment with the smell of something comforting cooking for a few hours on a cold day. I’ve never had ropa vieja, but it sounds/looks wonderful!

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Renee January 9, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Thanks Kelly! I agree on how great it is to have smell of something delicious cooking for hours on a long cold day.

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Lane @ Supper for a Steal January 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

We have some great Spanish and Cuban restaurants around and ropa vieja is one of my favorite dishes! I have made a not so authentic recipe in the crock pot, but I bet this is just outstanding.

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Cindys Recipes January 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm

This sounds very interesting, Renee! I’ll give it a try!

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Sarah January 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I would have been so sad to hear the restaurant closed. Josh and I went to a Colombian steak house for our first date and I can never forget that taste. We barely ate but that is besides the point. I’ve tried making a similiar dish at home and it just didn’t taste the same. I am giving your recipe a try and reliving our first date. wink wink! ;)

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Renee January 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I hope it makes for a wonderful date night for you and Josh.

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