Updated: Jan 12
As we are all cooped up with this Corona Virus lock down, I have decided to take us on a virtual culinary journey around the world, introducing traditional dishes from 30 of my favorite countries that I have visited. We'll introduce one new meal per day over the next 30 days. We will visit and feature national dishes from Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Ethiopia, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Gambia, South Africa, Cape Verde Islands, Ireland, England, Hungry, France, Nerthands, Sweden, Norwegian, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Lebanon, India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Australia and finally New Zealand.
LET'S START WITH CUBA
This “ultimate” version of Cuba’s most famous dish, Ropa Vieja, is positively PACKED with flavor!! Order a double batch while you’re at it and you’ll be glad you have the leftovers!
Shredded beef and vegetables that resemble a heap of colorful rags – that’s Ropa Vieja. From the Spanish term for “old clothes”, this is one of Cuba’s most popular and beloved dishes. So popular in fact that it’s one of the country’s designated national dishes.
This dish dates back to the Middle Ages of Spanish Sephardi, a loose adaptation of a dish that remains popular in southern and central Spain. Traditionally it was a way to stretch the leftovers of stews such as puchero or cocida, both of which are garbanzo-based dishes as is the original Spanish version of Ropa Vieja. This dish was later taken to Cuba where the Cubans made it their own.
Central in this dish are beef and tomatoes, both naturally umami-rich ingredients. Added to that are zesty bell peppers, onions, and to that we’re going to add some additional ingredients and spices that will make your taste buds sing with joy!
What is the Best Cut of Meat for Ropa Vieja?
Traditionally Ropa Vieja is made with flank steak or chuck. I have tested this dish with both and believe chuck works better for slow cooking because the long cooking time over low heat breaks down the cartilage, melts the fat and keeps the beef moist while also adding a ton of extra flavor. It’s by far the most popular beef cut of choice for slow cooking and shredding.
Today we’re going to see the ultimate Ropa Vieja with a wonderfully rich depth of flavor! In the end you’ll have to make your own judgment call, but I’m pretty confident you’re going to love it! And at the same time we’re going to add whole carrots, celery and bay leaves, infusing the sauce with some umami qualities and natural sweetness from the vegetables.
For our ropa vieja recipe we’re also adding an array of other classic Cuban and Spanish ingredients such as olives, pimientos and capers. In addition to the red bell pepper that’s caramelized with the onions, we’re also going to add red bell pepper for added smokiness, sweetness and flavor. These are all fabulous ingredients and we’re using them all to give this dish a wonderful flavor boost.
Ropa Vieja only tastes better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld, so this is a perfect dish to make in large batches for leftovers!
Here is the recipe for 6 servings
2 pounds chuck ask your butcher to cut it taller than wider so you get long strands of beef along the grain or flank steak.
1 large yellow onion thinly sliced
1/4 cup canned chopped green chilis
1 of each large green red and yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons organic cumin
2 teaspoons organic sweet paprika
2 teaspoon organic smokey paprika
1 teaspoon organic turmeric
1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon organic all spice
1/8 teaspoon organic ground cloves
2 teaspoons organic kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon organic freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef broth
1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot cut in half
1 large stalk celery cut in half
1 cup Green Olives rinsed and drained (you can slice them if you prefer)
1/2 cup thinly Roasted Red Peppers drained
1/4 cup Pimientos drained
2 tablespoons Capers rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley