Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes)

In the mood for something Cuban tonight!  The origin of ropa vieja is from the Canary Islands (Spain), which were the last place ships from Spain would stop on the way to the Americas.  The original version of Ropa Vieja contained leftovers, but later became a shredded meat dish with chickpeas and potatoes in the Canary Islands.  The dish is a national feature of Cuba, and does not have garbanzo beans or potatoes in Cuba; it is just the shredded meat in sauce.

There are many theories as to how the dish was named. One of the more popular ones is a story about a man whose family was coming to his home for dinner. Being very poor, the man could not buy them enough food when they came. To remedy his situation, he went to his closet, gathered some old clothes (ropa vieja) and imbued them with his love. When he cooked the clothes, his love for his family turned them into a wonderful beef stew.  Now I am not about to go cook my clothes or anything, but I will try it with meat!

1-1/2 lbs flank steak (frozen or defrosted),
cut in half if necessary to fit into the cooker
1 14-oz can Ro*Tel
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
3/4 cup of your favorite salsa, homemade or store-bought

1. In a 4-quart slow cooker, place the meat, Ro*Tel, onion, chili powder, cumin and Mexican oregano. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW for 6 hours, until the meat practically falls apart when you lift it.

2. Remove the meat and, when it's cool enough to handle, cut across the grain into 3-inch chunks. With a fork shred the meat, and return it to the slow cooker. Stir in the salsa.

3. Leave the lid ajar, and turn the heat to HIGH. Cook for 30 minutes, until most of the liquid has cooked out.

4. Remove ropa vieja from the slow cooker and use for quesadillas, burritos, or a topping with rice or beans. As with many stews, ropa tastes better on the second day, and it freezes well.  Enjoy!

Recipe from The Perfect Pantry.


Cheri Witmer said...

Wow...this is soooooo good! I am in awe at what just a few ingredients and spices can do. I don't know if I can resist a second helping, even after checking the calorie count...O Lord help me, turn it into broccoli after it hits my stomach :)

Paula said...

I'm Portuguese and in Portugal there's also a dish with this name and many variations of it, the idea being as you said to use any leftovers you might have.

Miss Lego said...

that dish is well known in my city Cartagena de indias....very typical

Cheri Witmer said...

It may be typical eating for you, but it is new to me and I love it! It is a different twist from ground beef with tortillas :)

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