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Ropa Vieja

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr
Yield 8 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)
This Cuban stew, Ropa Vieja, is made by braising beef until it can be shredded—thus the name (translated as 'old clothes'). Serve with tortillas, and pass hot sauce on the side for those who like it fiery. Because the meat is shredded, it's also suitable for tacos and burritos.


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (1-pound) flank steaks, trimmed
  • 3 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
  • 2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Nutrition Information

  • calories 229
  • caloriesfromfat 36 %
  • fat 9.1 g
  • satfat 3.4 g
  • monofat 3.9 g
  • polyfat 0.6 g
  • protein 26 g
  • carbohydrate 9.6 g
  • fiber 2 g
  • cholesterol 40 mg
  • iron 2.4 mg
  • sodium 614 mg
  • calcium 53 mg

How to Make It

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 steak to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining steak.

  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olives and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Add steaks; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 1/2 hours or until steaks are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

  3. Remove steaks from pan; shred with two forks. Stir shredded beef and cilantro into pan.

  4. Wine note: A savory beef dish such as this needs a rich red wine, but preferably one that won't break the bank since this is a humble meal. One of my favorites is Reds, a delicious blend of several varietals, with zinfandel predominating. And the 2005 is $ —Karen MacNeil