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Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef) – Slowcooker/Crockpot Dish

February 24, 2013
ropa vieja

ropa vieja

On the evening I was making this dish, along with a few others, I was instant messaging a good friend.

ME: “I gotta go, working on some cooking,”.

FRIEND: “Oh what are you making?”

ME: “ropa vieja”

FRIEND (who speaks some spanish): Old clothes?

ME: Um, yes old clothes.

So, ropa vieja means, literally old clothes. It’s slow cooked beef that’s tender and then shredded, eaten over rice. I don’t know why it’s called old clothes, perhaps because it’s falling apart like old clothes? That’s my best guess. It’s a Cuban dish, and Elias loves it. It meets my criteria for a crockpot dish in that all of the ingredients are thrown in the crockpot and then you walk away. This was my second attempt at it. The first attempt was crazy and inedible. This was awesome. I adapted this recipe based on my first experience (which was a different recipe, but had some similarities) by using a larger meat to liquid ratio and using red wine instead of water. I also omitted the bay leaf. I hate bay leaves and find no purpose in their existence. It’s true.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja


Approximately 3 pounds of flank steak cut into three or four large pieces

28 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained)

1/2 cup red wine (whatever you have lying around the house. If you have many options, choose one that’s less sweet)

1 red pepper, cut into strips

i green pepper, cut into strips

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp dried oregano

1 and 1/2 tsp. dried cumin

1 six oz jar of green olives with pimentos

2 tablespoons of capers

3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro


1. Season the meat with salt and pepper

2. Put all ingredients except for cilantro, capers and olives in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours or more, or until the meat is very tender

3. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and rest for 10 minutes

4. Shred the meat with 2 forks and return to the sauce to warm through

5. Stir in capers, olives and cilantro and serve over white rice or with tortillas

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine 


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mamie permalink
    February 24, 2013 6:09 pm

    Hey Mrs. Smith – I don’t know how one does this, or if it is easy or really tough, but there is an app called “ZipList” and one can immediately press a button and put all the ingredients necessary for the recipe on a store list as well as save the recipe (or its web location). Could you look into that? Or can I look into that for you?

  2. February 24, 2013 6:11 pm

    I love bay leaves but hate cilantro! 🙂 I’d probably leave both out for this. It sounds amazing; I think we’ll be trying this next week.

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