Cuban Ropa Vieja Recipe

Ropa Vieja translates to “Old clothes” and is a traditional Cuban dish. It’s a fantastic dish you can make, really cheap and for a lot of people. Traditionally served family style with the rice, beans and maduros. This dish never disappoints and when I make it, it gets destroyed with in the first hour or so. All of the flavors complement each other so well, and it’s just one of those dishes that just hits you right in the soul. 

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Ropa Vieja:

  • 3-5 lb chuck roast
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 yellow onions 
  • 2 red bell peppers 
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican Oregano
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ¾ cup pimento stuffed olives
  • 4 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Black Beans:

  • ½ lb black beans (dried)
  • 5 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • 5 pieces of garlic.
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak your black beans overnight, rinse and set aside. Slice your bacon into bite size chunks, and dice your onions. Cook down your bacon until soft, about 3 mins on medium heat. Add your onions and garlic (Slice your garlic thin as well). Cook down the onions until translucent. Remove from heat. Using an immersion hand blender or stand-up blender, blend the bacon, onions, garlic and chicken stock until smooth. Add your beans to this mixture and cook until the bean is creamy and tender. I add all of the seasonings except salt at the beginning of the cooking process. This ensures that it doesn’t get overly salt while the beans are cooking. I finish seasoning the beans with salt when they’re cooked.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees

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Cut tomatoes, onion and red peppers in half and place on a sheet tray. Drizzle vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 5 minutes. Then add your garlic cloves to the sheet tray (this allows the vegetables to roast and develop a char before the garlic goes in so you don’t burn your garlic). Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Keep an eye on that garlic because this is the first thing that would be done. You want a nice golden brown on the garlic. If the vegetables have started to char remove from heat and let cool. Leave the skins on the red peppers but remove the tomato skin. Slice the peppers and onions into strips. Rough chop the onions and set aside. Leave roasted garlic whole.

Preheat your Dutch Oven and put in enough oil to cover the bottom of the Dutch oven. Start off by searing all sides of your pot roast until golden brown and delicious. Once it comes out of the pot, season with salt and pepper on all sides. (I like to do it after I sear it because I don’t want any of the pepper to burn in the bottom of the pan, or leave any scorched flavor from the pepper, you can season before but this is how I like doing it)

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Add your roasted vegetables and garlic to the pan after you sear off your pot roast, let it cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then add your wine. Reduce the wine by half and then place your pot roast on top of the veggies. Add enough chicken stock to almost cover the meat. Add your olives, sliced in half and the stems of your cilantro, I like to tie the stems with butcher twine and tie them to the edge of the pot for easy removal. Bring up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and let go until meat is done, about 2-3 hours. The meat is done when you can insert a fork, twist and the meat starts to pull away. Kill the heat and then let cool and rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with picked cilantro leaves.

I like to serve this with rice, white or brown, all up to you which you choose and black beans. And sweet plantains called Maduros. This is from a ripe plantain, cut into chucks and then fried until GBD. Sprinkle with a little salt and they’re fantastic snacks.

This is one of the first dishes my wife ever cooked for me, back when we first started dating almost 12 years ago. It’s a dish she is very fond of and loves to eat it.  It’s a dish we don’t make often, but maybe we should start adding this to a monthly or bi-monthly rotation.

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