Ropa Vieja, hearty Cuban Beef Stew, can be served over rice, with beans or a good chunk of bread, any which way you serve it, Ropa Vieja is sure to please.
This spring, on our trip through Arizona, after a long drive southward we stopped to visit relatives in Casa Grande. Finding them not available immediately meant we now needed to forage for dinner, in a town we didn’t know at all, YIKES. We drove on past the chain restaurants clogging up the interstate exit and into downtown Casa Grande. What a lovely downtown, with plenty of big, old storefronts just begging for businesses to come back from the interstate exit. We were looking for someplace local to spend our food dollars, we found Feli’s Cuban Restaurant. Too hungry to care if our kids would eat it, we marched right in, parked ourselves and proceeded to put the waitress through the paces. What’s traditional Cuban food? What do you recommend? What do you order? Can we have more water!?
We must have made an impression because the owner and chef came over to introduce himself to us, the freaks from Alaska who’d never had Cuban food before. Feli was neat, he was quickly sharing pictures of impressive catering events, told us his mom was a huge influence in the kitchen and even wowed our kids with a coconut flan. You’ll never find service like that a one of the 160,000 fast-food joints in America! We discovered that we love Cuban food and we wanted more of it once we got back home.
We’re pretty sure there are no Cuban joints in Alaska, so we knew it was going to be up to me to TRY to recreate (HA!) a few of the dishes at home. Ropa Vieja was first on the list because quite frankly I’d never eaten a more extraordinary beef stew in my life. I think we’ll make some fried plantains next and definitely a Cuban version of Chicken with Rice.
I’ve left a few of the amounts of seasoning up to you, I expect (NO, DEMAND!) that you taste and adjust the spices to YOUR liking. We liked it this way, your tastes will definitely be different. In places where I’ve given two different measurements start with the smallest amount and add the ingredient until it tastes good to you.