Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja is a classic Cuban dish that resembles a heap of rags, which is why it’s named for “old clothes”.  Traditionally it is made with flank steak, but I prefer the texture and tenderness of chuck roast that’s been cooked for hours and shredded in it’s saucy goodness.  I learned to make this dish in Havana, and we ate it with a heap of rice and black beans washed down with a cold beer.  It takes some time to prepare, but it’s worth more than its weight of “old clothes”!


3 pound chuck roast
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 16 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Pat the roast dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven on stove over high heat.  Add the roast and brown on all sides.  Transfer roast to a plate. 

In the pot add the sliced onion and peppers and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Add the garlic and spices and cook another minute.  Add white wine and bring to a boil, stirring and reducing until nearly dry.  Add broth and tomatoes and simmer for another five minutes.  Return the roast to the pot and cover.  Put pot in oven and cook for four hours, until beef is very tender. 

Remove from oven and let sit, uncovered for 20 minutes.  Transfer roast to a cutting board and and shred with two forks.  Add shredded beef back into pot with vegetables and stir in olives and cilantro.  Serve with rice.  

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Cuban Adventure

It began with a visit to a Cuban restaurant in Miami years ago when I experienced authentic Cuban cuisine and the warm, welcoming hospitality of the Cuban culture. Such was the impact of that visit, I knew that I must go learn more about the food and people of Cuba. So, I grabbed my go-with-the-flow fellow traveler (and good personal friend), Cindy, to experience our own Cuban adventure.

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