By popular request, here's Chef Jami Erriquez's simple, easy to make ropa vieja recipe, that you can serve today.
raw brisket
The author uses brisket instead of flank steak for her recipe.

Ropa vieja is a dish that we’ve covered here before at Startup Cuba. Last time it was an awesome full-on live class. So today, by request from those without the time to watch the class replay, I’m posting a straightforward ropa vieja recipe. Plus, I’m about to bring some creative dishes your way so I thought we should get this famous basic out of the way.

It’s a dish that will transport you to your abuela’s home; rustic and beefy with just a hint of sweetness from the cooked down peppers and onions.

Ropa vieja doesn’t really need an introduction. In Spanish it means “ old clothes” and it is a national dish of Cuba (typically made with pork on the island, because of beef scarcity, unless you’re at a tourist restaurant). Versions can also be found in Panama, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the Philippines. The dish originated in Spain. Folklore tells the story of a penniless man who removed his ragged clothes and boiled them. As he did this, he prayed for food for him and his family. Before his eyes his prayers were answered, his boiled ragged clothing turned into a large pot of stewed beef. 

Amazing.

While I don’t recommend you throwing your favorite jeans and hoodie into a crock pot, I do suggest you give this straightforward ropa vieja recipe a try. It’s a dish that will transport you to your abuela’s home; rustic and beefy with just a hint of sweetness from the cooked down peppers and onions. My version differs a bit from the traditional preparation in that I used brisket instead of chuck roast or flank steak. I also add ½ cup of balsamic vinegar. Don’t @ me, the balsamic gives the sauce some acidity and a touch of added sweetness. 

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ropa vieja recipe
Ropa vieja (not the author’s – her’s is better looking) over rice.

I am thankful my family and I are able to indulge a little with Ropa Vieja and recommend this recipe for your next family get together. Serve with a side of rice and beans and a tomato avocado salad.

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Ropa Vieja Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 pounds brisket
  • 1 large spanish onions, sliced
  • 1 red and green bell pepper, sliced 
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2  teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup spanish olives, roughly chopped
  • 1  6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 16oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Cilantro, chopped, garnish
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Olive oil
Spanish onions

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Preparation

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large dutch oven, over high heat. Brown on all sides, and set aside. 
  2. Add onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes on medium low. 
  3. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until tomato paste looks dark red. 
  4. Add broth, balsamic vinegar, and crushed tomatoes. Make sure to scrap the bottom for any bits left behind season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes. 
  5. Return beef to the pot. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 3 hours. 
  6. Remove beef, and shred. 
  7. Add olives,  cilantro, and shredded beef back to the pot. Cook for another 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced. 
  8. Remove any excess fat from the top.  Taste to adjust seasonings. 
  9. Serve and garnish with chopped olives and cilantro.
ropa vieja recipe
The author’s finished ropa vieja. Photo: Jami Erriquez

(Note from El Equipo: For a different, and equally delicious take on this classic ropa vieja recipe, watch Louie Estrada’s full class replay.)

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Jami Erriquez

Jami Erriquez is a part-time chef, food stylist, and an avid cookbook collector from South Florida. She studied culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Georgia. Her love for cooking came from her father, Danny. She is a traveler, a yogi, and a beach bum, and has been eating Cuban sandwiches and listening to Celia Cruz since she was seven!. When Jami isn't in the kitchen she is binge-watching Golden Girls and hanging out with her family and pet cat, Irma.

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