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.
- 2 TBSP cooking oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 2 pounds beef, flank steak is good but stew meat will work too, cut into bite sized pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled and minced
- 16 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 jar Goya Sofrito
- 3 cups water
- 1-2 tsp adobo seasoning, an easy to find garlicky/oregano/pepper spice blend, use it to taste preference
- 1/2-1 cup green olives, use more or less to taste preference
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- heat the cooking oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat
- pat the beef dry and brown it in the oil, cooking in two batches if necessary
- once the beef is browned, remove it from the pan
- reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and peppers
- cook until soft, about 5 minutes
- add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so
- add the tomatoes, Sofrito, water and 1 tsp adobo seasoning(add more as needed)
- then return the beef to the pan
- bring to a simmer, cover with foil and then the lid
- simmer for 3 hours or until the beef is falling apart
- you can remove it from the pan and shred it or you can leave it in chunks
- either way stir the olives and cilantro into the stew
- add salt and pepper to taste
- serve over hot rice, with beans or even crusty bread for dipping
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.