Ropa vieja when translated means “old clothes” because when beef is cooked for a long time it would look something similar don’t you think? Anyways the name might sound odd but there’s a story behind it, based on a local folklore in the Canary Islands there was this poor person who wanted to feed his family but he don’t have anything, he then slowly cooked his clothes and because of his amazing love for his family the dish turned out to be magically delicious.
Now that story sounds like it can be made into a Disney movie but getting back into the dish trust me this Canary Islands dish does not contain any form of clothing, this dish is mostly made of tough beef cuts like flank steak, skirt steak or even brisket cooked in tomatoes with spices like cumin and oregano, onions, peppers and sometimes olives. Though the most popular meat used are beef there are versions where pork and chicken are used.
This dish is popular in Spain, Canary Islands as well as in the countries of Latin America but the preparation is different and ingredients vary slightly where some enjoy it with beans, others with rice, some with plantains but for our post today we will be enjoying it with some pita bread.
- 1 kg flank or skirt steak, cut into big chunks
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 green capsicum / bell pepper, sliced
- 400 g can chopped tomatoes
- 140 g tomato paste
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (leave some for garnishing)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 cup olives
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Pita bread
- In a large heavy skillet heat oil then brown beef on all sides, roughly 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Remove beef and place in a slow cooker.
- Sauté garlic and onions in the skillet, pour beef stock then turn heat off. Transfer sautéed onions and garlic into the slow cooker.
- Add all the remaining ingredients into the slow cooker apart from the olives. Stir until well blended then cook in low setting for 10 hours or 4 hours in high if you want it faster, occasionally check for water levels and add water if necessary.
- Once cooked remove from slow cooker, shred meat if needed then mix in the olives, garnish with cilantro then serve with pita bread and jalapeno peppers.