Today is a big day for me! I’m spending the day getting certified as a barreFit instructor. While I’m sweating it out in the studio, I want to share this fantastic recipe for Ropa Vieja that was inspired by my time in Miami last month. Take advantage of the slow-cooker to turn out this saucy, shredded, salty, sweet Cuban Classic flank steak preparation. Serve with some hot, cooked rice, a shower of fresh cilantro, and some lime wedges for squeezing and and feel like you’ve been transported to Miami!
You know that trip I took to Miami last month? This will come as no surprise to most of you, but my awesome roomies (Mary and Meseidy) I ate a large swath through that city, decimating all the Cuban food we encountered with no mercy. Yes, I know the city is full of scantily glad beautiful people -Holy Lack of Inhibitions, Batman- but for us it was all about the food and well-clothed friendship.
I demolished Cuban Hash for breakfast (pulled pork, fried potatoes-and-onions-and-peppers, garlic, and a fried egg). I ate Cuban sandwiches for lunch. We went out to a Cuban restaurant for late afternoon snack with girlfriends and ordered an entrée of Vaca Frita that came with a massive plate of fried onions, black beans, and rice. I love unabashedly meat-and-garlic-loving cuisines.
Do you think I got tired of the all-Cuban-food-all-the-time approach I took to the city?
No. In case you’re wondering, that’s the answer. In fact, I went through withdrawal when I got home. WHERE were my plantain chips? WHERE was my bowl of beans and rice? WHERE was my deep-fried, smoked pork chop? WHERE WAS MY ROPA VIEJA? The solution was -as it often is- to make my own.
Thanks to the “Flavors of Miami” demo by Meseidy of The Noshery and Carla a.k.a. CubanBrit, I left Miami feeling like I was totally equal to making it myself. Using Carla’s Ropa Vieja as a leaping off point, I adjusted to make it mine and baby? It’s good. You’ll feel like one of the beautiful Miami people when you serve this, although hopefully you’ll be wearing more than that thong get-up I saw that one woman sporting at the nightclub. I mean it’s up to you, obviously, but I prefer to wear something with a little more mid-section coverage so I can go back for seconds and thirds without it being so obvious. You know, like a muu muu or burqini.
I’m clearly not meant to live in Miami among the beach people.
The point is this; the food is spot on whether you serve it dressed like a nun or a nudist. Ropa Vieja -one of Cuba’s National Treasures- is traditionally a flank steak that is seared and then braised in a garlicky tomato sauce with onions and peppers until the steak can easily be shredded into long, thin, ropy pieces like tattered old clothes. Ropa Vieja actually MEANS old clothes, so there ya go! The shredded meat is then added back into the cooking juices along with green olives and a handful of raisins that provide a sweet counterpoint to the salty olives. It’s usually served with a side of white rice and a shower of chopped fresh cilantro or parsley. UGH that’s so stinkin’ good.
- For the record, I think this would be outstanding made with venison. Venison flank steak would behave much the same way, using the long, slow-cooking phase to become tender and shreddy.
- You could quite likely use a top round or chuck steak in place of a flank steak, but you won’t get the same long, ropy pieces that you would from a flank steak. Still? Yum.
- The raisins in the dish are optional, but if you omit them, be sure to add in 1/8 cup of raw or brown sugar, or sucanat to make up for the sweetness they’d bring.
- If you don’t want to use Sazon Goya because of the MSG or because you can’t find it in your area, you can make your own using The Noshery’s recipe for homemade sazon here! Sazon is good stuff, though, folks… and it’s a very authentic addition to Ropa Vieja!