Ropa vieja is a comforting Cuban beef stew consisting of shredded beef, colored bell peppers, mild spices, and a tomato sauce.
Translated as “old clothes” from Spanish, ropa vieja is a deliciously slow-cooked Cuban beef stew with mild flavors — nothing too strong, and not spicy either. Similar to a mild pot roast, but Cuban style. It’s often served with white rice, and sometimes with black beans and plantains. This is one of Cuba’s national dishes, and it’s affectionately called “old clothes” because the shreds of beef and bell pepper look like a mess of colorful rags. To emphasize that, I made sure to include three different colors of bell peppers in this recipe.
The beef and bell pepper slices are cooked for hours in the slow cooker — alternatively, you could cook them in a dutch oven on the stove — and you end up with juicy shreddable beef and very tender bell peppers. This Cuban beef stew is traditionally made using flank steak, but I thought that slow-cooked flank steak would be such a waste of good meat, so I used cheaper beef stew cuts.
The last time I had great Cuban food was when I took a quick weekend trip to Miami a few years ago. I went on a food tour of South Beach and tasted beef and potato empanadas, passion fruit ceviche, and of course, delicious ropa vieja. I’ll have to go back again sometime for more amazing Cuban food tasting.
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