This ropa vieja recipe is a traditional dish of beef roast that’s simmered with tomatoes and seasonings until tender, then shredded and served with olives. A classic dinner that always gets rave reviews!
I have a great local Cuban restaurant that makes the best ropa vieja – it’s perfectly tender with the most amazing savory flavor. I’ve since learned how to make this dish at home, and I have to say, my version is just as good as what you’d get at a restaurant!
What is ropa vieja?
Ropa vieja is considered to be one of the national dishes of Cuba, but is also made in other countries including Panama and Puerto Rico. The name of the dish translates into “old clothes”, because the shredded meat resembles scraps of fabric. This recipe typically consists of some type of beef, tomatoes, olives and red bell peppers. The meat is always slow cooked until it’s tender enough to shred until the characteristic “rags”.
How do you make ropa vieja?
Start by browning your meat in a pot. Remove the meat from the pot, then cook your vegetables until tender. When the veggies are soft, add garlic, seasonings, tomatoes and a little white wine. Return the meat to the pot, then cover the pot and place it in the oven. Let the meat simmer in the oven for at least 3 hours or until it’s very tender. Shred the meat, then stir in olives. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.
What is the best cut of meat for ropa vieja?
This dish is often made with either flank steak or a chuck roast. I typically use a chuck roast for multiple reasons. First of all, it’s less expensive than flank steak. It’s also more marbled which makes it less likely to dry out, as flank steak is often on the lean side. I’ve written this recipe for a chuck roast, but you can easily substitute an equal amount of flank steak if you prefer.
Tips for the perfect dish
- I recommend taking the extra few minutes to brown your meat. It adds so much more flavor to the dish.
- Ropa vieja will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and will last for 2 months in the freezer.
- Serve the finished dish with a variety of sides including white rice, black beans and plantains for an authentic meal.
- If you don’t want to use wine, substitute an equal amount of beef broth instead.
Slow cooker version
This recipe can easily be adapted for the slow cooker. Brown the meat and saute the vegetables, then place them in a crockpot along with the rest of the ingredients, omitting the olives and cilantro. Let the meat cook on low heat for 8 hours, then shred and stir in the olives and cilantro.
This dish is perfect for a family dinner, or for a cold day when you want to warm up with a little comfort food!
More great ways to enjoy beef
- Garlic Butter Filet Mignon
- New York Strip Steak
- Tamale Pie
- Grilled Flank Steak
- Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Ropa Vieja Video
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 pounds chuck roast can also use flank steak
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 cup onion thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups red bell pepper cored, seeded and sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes do not drain
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup green pimiento stuffed olives whole or sliced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat the oil in a large deep pot over medium heat.
- Season the meat all over with the salt and pepper.
- Add the meat to the pot, then cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.
- Remove the meat from the pot.
- Place the onions and bell pepper in the pot. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the wine has reduced by half.
- Add the two types of paprika, cumin, oregano, tomatoes, beef broth and bay leaves to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Place the meat back into the pot. Cover and put the pot in the oven.
- Bake for 3 hours or until meat is tender.
- Uncover the pot, then skim off any excess grease. Shred the meat into long pieces using two forks.
- Stir in the olives. Season with additional salt if desired. Sprinkle with cilantro, then serve.