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Ropa Vieja for #SundaySupper

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 | Magnolia Days
5 from 2 votes

Ropa Vieja

A recipe for ropa vieja, a braised and shredded beef dish made with bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, and cumin.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Renee


  • 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 3 crushed & 3 minced, divided
  • 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 can chopped tomatoes 14- to 16-ounce
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. Pull meat into shreds using two forks. Set aside.
  3. In the soup pot, cook green bell pepper and sliced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Recipe Notes

A recipe for ropa vieja, a braised and shredded beef dish made with bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, and cumin.

Recipe adapted from one on Epicurious.

Recipe Rating


Thursday 10th of January 2013

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! ;)


Monday 14th of January 2013

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

Cindys Recipes

Wednesday 9th of January 2013

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

Lane @ Supper for a Steal

Wednesday 9th of January 2013

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.

kelly @ kellybakes

Wednesday 9th of January 2013

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!


Wednesday 9th of January 2013

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

Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom

Tuesday 8th of January 2013

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