Ropa Vieja (Cuban Braised Beef) – Food Wishes

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Braised Beef) – Food Wishes

November 18, 2019 88 By Ewald Bahringer


hello this is chef john from food wishes
calm with ropa vieja that’s right we’re doing one of the national dishes of Cuba
which believe it or not translates to old clothes since apparently someone way
back when thought the finished recipe looked like a bunch of torn old tattered
clothing but anyway it’s been my experience that for something to become
a national dish it has to have a lot more going for it than just a cool name
and this incredibly delicious braised beef dish certainly does so with that
let’s go ahead and get started by prepping some flank steak which is what
I have right here and what we’ll do first is cut this in half across the
grain okay you see those meat fibers we’re gonna cut straight across those
two divide this into two and then once that set we will season this very
generously with a mixture of kosher salt freshly ground black pepper and of
course cayenne and I should mention modern versions of this recipe often use
Chuck instead of flank steak because people say it’s cheaper which is true
and it works just as well which in my opinion is definitely not true but
anyway we’ll talk more about that later and for now we’ll just head to the stove
where we’re gonna Brown this on both sides and a little bit of olive oil over
high heat and I’ll be doing this one piece at a time so as not to crowd the
pot and not only are we doing this to flavor the beef but we’re also doing it
to flavor the pot because by the time we have both of those pieces seared we are
gonna have a beautiful looking found on the bottom of our pot which is the
culinary term for all that caramelized goodness and creating that before we
start braising the recipe is one of the secrets here so let’s set our heat to
medium and then to all those beautifully brown bits we’ll go ahead and add one
sliced red onion along with some sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of our salt
mixture and we’ll go ahead and cook that for a few minutes stirring until they
just start to soften up at which point we can go ahead and start introducing
the rest of our seasonings and this recipe features lots of my favorites
including some ground cumin some paprika some dry oregano preferably Mexican but
any type of work we will also sneak in a little more cayenne as well as some
ground clove and a little touch of allspice and then what we’ll want to do
once all that’s in there cook this terrine for exactly one minute
and as you might be able to see our font is getting better and better and by
better and better I mean browner and browner and then what we’ll do after
cooking those spices for about a minute let’s go ahead and deglaze with a splash
of white wine and I’ll do glaze means is releasing all that goodness off the
bottom of the pan using liquid okay there should be a saying a great cook
never needs to scrub a stewpot but anyway we’ll pour in some wine as well
as some tomato sauce or crushed Tomatoes and then we can go ahead and finish off
our braising liquids with some chicken broth or or if times are tough you could
use water and we will go ahead and give that a quick mix before carefully
placing our beef back in along with of course any accumulated juices oh yeah
don’t forget those and by the way if you’re Cuban and you’re mad I did not
put more tomato in this I’m sorry but my version does not have quite as much as
in the classical versions all right I like my ropa vieja a little more pepper
and B forward and by the way if you’re still looking for a name for your garage
band you could do a lot worse than be forward but anyway what we’re gonna do
here is add a little more salt at which point we’ll reduce our heat to
low cover this and simmer it for two hours which is something that’s just
absolutely unheard of for flank steak which is usually cooked quickly to a
medium rare but trust me for this recipe it really does work out and then you
remember that thing I’m always telling you about how you should try to remember
what you forgot well in this case it was a couple bay leaves so I went ahead and
toss those in and covered it back up and continued braising down low for two
hours at which point the meats gonna be done for this stage but not quite fork
tender all right there’s definitely still going
to be some resistance when you push that fork in but that’s totally fine because
as you’ll see that beef is gonna cook longer after we tear it up so at this
point I really don’t think we want to fall on apart tender and then what we’ll
do after our beef is braised is remove that from the heat let it cool down to
room temp because I think this comes out way better if you refrigerate it
overnight and finish it the next day so this step is optional and you could just
carry on if you want but I’m gonna go ahead and let that cool and then cover
it and pop it in the fridge overnight and then what we’ll do the next day is
go ahead and pull that out and while this is still all nice and cold we’ll go
ahead and remove our to a plate while at the same time
turning our heat up to medium-high because we do want this to come back to
a simmer and while we’re waiting for that we could move on to the tearing of
the beef and because we did go with flank steak this is going to be as easy
as it is enjoyable because by tearing with the grain we’re gonna get these
beautiful shreds of beef that are all gonna be roughly the same length and
there’s obviously going to be a lot of variation but as far as a whip I’m
shooting for something between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch although have you said
that you can tear this into a smaller as large pieces as you want
I mean you are after all the Omar Sharif of tearing your beef oh and if you can
try to get to look like old torn clothing or like the frayed bottoms of
those cut-off denim shorts you try to make that one time you know the ones
where the pockets were longer than the bottom of the shorts that was not a good
look but anyway we’re gonna go ahead and shred that beef as shown and then once
our flank is tore up from the floor up we can head back to the stove for final
production where we will add a whole bunch of sliced peppers to our now
hopefully simmering mixture in ideally these peppers have been fire roasted and
then cut up which I did not take the time to do but don’t worry chef Jon’s
got tricks okay what we’ll do is sneak in a little
bit of smoked paprika which will add a little bit of a subtle smoky note in the
background we will also add in another couple key ingredients a couple
tablespoons of drained capers as well as some sliced green pimento stuffed olives
oh we have those are not just for martinis and we can also at this point
go ahead and toss in our torn beef and then we’ll take a spoon and give that a
thorough mixing and we’ll wait for that to come back to a simmer and then if we
want to balance all those sharp briny flavors we can go ahead and add one
optional spoon of sugar all right up to you but I do think that helps balance
things out and that’s it once we have all that stirred together we’ll go ahead
and reduce our heat to medium and we’ll simply let this simmer until our peppers
are soft and our meat is tender which I’ll gaston say is going to take about
15 or 20 minutes but only you will know by checking and tasting and then what
we’ll do once we think it’s cooked long enough besides of course tasting and
checking the seasoning is we will turn off the heat and stir in a nice big hand
full of chopped cilantro or if you wanted these people the things cilantro
tastes like poison you can use some chopped parsley instead which is not
uncommon but I love cilantro so I’m using that and that’s it once that
stirred in we are ready to serve up next to hopefully some rice and black beans
as well as some plantain chips which yes we’re a little too perfectly arranged
and I went ahead and finished that off a little sprig of cilantro and that’s it
my ropa vieja is ready to transfer into my cabeza sorry but mouth didn’t rhyme
and that my friends is one of the most delicious most flavorful most
interestingly textured braised beef dishes you will ever have okay despite
breaking all the rules about cooking with flank steak this really is
magnificent although what’s not magnificent is eating a bay leaf so pull
those out oh by the way this sauce really is insanely tasty so feel free to
use that same formula to braise other things and while it is true this would
be cheaper to make if you use chuck roast also known as beef shoulder it is
just not the same okay the beef flavor will be similar
although I do think the flanks a little beefier but the real difference would be
the texture of the torn meat all right Chuck is just gonna shred into smaller
pieces and it’s not gonna have the same effect okay so if you can afford it
please go with the flank steak even if it means having to wear those old
clothes a little bit longer but anyway no matter which cut of beef you end up
using I really do hope you give this a try soon so head over to food wishes
comm for all the ingredient amounts of more info as usual and as always enjoy you you