Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Ropa Vieja

Story has it that ropa vieja originated in the Canary Islands, a Spanish territory where ships would stop before the long run to or after the long trip home from the Americas. This resulted in a culture that was an interesting mixture of Spanish and Caribbean cultures, and thankfully, food. Immigrants from the Canaries supposedly brought the dish with them to the Caribbean, and to Cuba. Ropa vieja literally means "old clothes" in Spanish. This refers to the appearance of the meat and veggies which end up in strips resembling remnants of old rags. Don't let the ingredients list scare you, it's really not that complicated!


Stewing stuff:
4 T olive oil
2 t Salt
3 bay leaves
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 jalapeno
2 large onions, quartered,
2 carrots, cut into 1/4" slices
6-8 stems of fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, mashed
2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef brisket
fresh ground black pepper

Garlic paste:
1 T minced garlic
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

1/4 C olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
reserved garlic paste (above)

1 1/2 C reserved beef broth
1/2 C dry white wine
2 t white wine vinegar
2 chiles de arbol, ground
2 dried New Mexico chiles, ground
1 T ground cumin
1 green bell pepper, seeded cut in thin strips
8 ounces tomato sauce

limes - cut into Wedges
1/2 C fresh cilantro
Pico de Gallo, for serving, recipe listed on
Avocado Crema, recipe follows
Fresh Tortillas


Stewing stuff:
Add the olive oil to a large, heavy pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the salt, bay leaves, crushed red pepper flakes. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise, toss it in and stir. Add the onions, carrot, cilantro, and the garlic and stir again.

Add the olive oil to a large, heavy pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons salt, broken bay leaves, crushed red pepper flakes and halved jalapeno and stir. Add the quartered onions, chopped carrot, cilantro, and mashed garlic cloves and stir again. Time to get out the meat!
Place the brisket in the pot, season with salt and pepper and add enough water to cover by 2-inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so that the liquid just simmers, and cook the brisket until the meat is tender enough to shred, 5 to 7 hours.
Remove the meat and set out on a tray until it has cooled enough to shred.Pour the liquid through a strainer, saving the broth and tossing the solid stuff. Save 2 cups of the liquid for later use, and keep the rest for soup or stew. When the meat has cooled, take 2 forks and shred it into strands. Set the meat off to one side and work on the garlic paste.
Garlic paste:
Combine the minced garlic, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a mortar and pestle and work into a smooth paste. Set this aside and cook the aromatics.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the sliced onion. Saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic paste and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Putting it all together:
Add the reserved beef broth, wine, and vinegar. Add ground chiles and cumin and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the roasted bell pepper strips (I used yellow, I was out of green). If the sauce gets too thick, add a bit more of the reserved beef broth. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Add the shredded beef, tomato sauce, stir to combine, and cook, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the meat is fork tender and falling apart, coated with a thick sauce, and the flavors have come together.
Remove the bay leaf and serve, garnished with Pico de Gallo, Avocado Crema, lime wedges and cilantro, if desired. You can eat this by itself, or over rice; but it also makes some darned fine tacos, which are always popular in South Texas. My version differs from some others, in that it adds some South Texas flavors to the mix.

Here's some ropa vieja in a couple of tacos, with the avocado crema and pico de gallo:

1 comment:

rebekah said...

your blog is making me extremely hungry. awesome food!