Ropa Vieja

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This Cuban classic is an excellent way to use a tough and flavorful piece of beef. This version is an adaptation of a recipe in Serious Eats.  I used up some of the turkey broth I made from the bones from our Thanksgiving turkeys.


2-1/2 lb. chuck roast, round roast, or flank steak

Kosher salt and black pepper

3 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 large red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into strips

8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 Tbs. tomato paste

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. ground allspice

½ cup dried white wine

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 cup low sodium chicken or turkey stock (more may be needed)

2 bay leaves

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in half

1 celery stalk, cut in half

½ cup pimento-stuffed olives, cut in halves or thirds depending on size

½ cup loosely packed chopped cilantro


Preheat the oven to 350 and remove any racks which will get in the way of the Dutch oven and lid.

Salt and pepper the meat. Put the oil in a Dutch oven, and when hot, add the beef, cooking it on each side for about 6 minutes, until browned.  If the meat is too large for the pan, cut it in half and cook in batches.  Remove the browned beef to a plate.  Add the onion and peppers, stir to dissolve the browned bits from the beef, and cook about 8 minutes until the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.  Add more oil if necessary to keep the vegetables from sticking.  Add the garlic, and cook another minute.  Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, oregano, and allspice, and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Add the white wine, and stir to deglaze the pan.  Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, carrot, and celery, and stir well.  Add the beef, nestling it amount the vegetables.  Add more stock if necessary to barely cover the meat.

Cover the pot and put it into the oven. Cook for about 1-1/2 hours, until the beef is very tender.  Remove the beef and put it on a cutting board.  Put the pot on a burner on the stove, and start simmering the sauce with the lid off to concentrate it.  With a knife remove and discard any fat and connective tissue, and with two forks shred the beef into long strands.  Return the beef strands to the pot, stir well.  Add the olives, and continue cooking until the sauce is a glaze on the meat and vegetables.  Taste for seasoning, especially if using no-sodium homemade stock.  Stir in the cilantro and serve hot with rice and beans.


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