Monday, April 25, 2011

Ropa Vieja

The weather is warming up in New England, but since we've still had some cool nights, I recently got out my crock-pot to make a nice, hot meal. The slow cooker is a great way to cook one-pot meals, even in the summer, because it doesn't give off nearly as much heat as cooking a stew on the stove for hours.

I'd been flipping through loose recipes and found a printout of a Cuban Ropa Vieja. The name literally means "old clothes", because you cook the meat slowly for several hours until the meat just falls apart.

The gist of the recipe is simple: sear a piece of steak in a hot pan to get it nice and brown, then chop a bell pepper and an onion. Put it all together in a crock-pot with some liquid and some spices, set it to cook, and walk away!

The recipe originally calls for adding beef stock to tomato sauce and paste. I decided to change it up, however, by using Newcastle instead. I was initially worried that hours of cooking would make the beer's flavor too bitter, but I found that I really enjoyed the addition of it. (Plus, there was some leftover beer to drink with dinner!)

I served this on corn tortillas with shredded cheese and a little homemade lime crema (read: sour cream thinned with lime juice). I think this would also be good served with some rice on the side, or wrapped up like a burrito.

Ropa Vieja
Adapted from All Recipes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds beef flank steak
1 cup beer (I used Newcastle)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 small onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar


1) Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the flank steak on each side, about 4 minutes per side.

2) Transfer beef to a slow cooker. Pour in the beer and tomato sauce, then add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, olive oil and vinegar. Stir until well blended.

3) Cover, and cook on "High" for 4 hours, or on "Low" for up to 10 hours. When ready to serve, shred meat and serve with tortillas or rice.

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