A white enamel plate topped with rice and beef stew

Cuban ropa vieja

  • serves 4
  • Easy

Literally meaning ‘old clothes’ due to its long, shredded fibres, this is the national dish of Cuba. With its fragrant, smoky, aromatic mixture of tender, melt-in-the-mouth pulled beef, olives and other rich flavours, it’s little surprise it's such a favourite

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Try this recipe for Cuban ropa vieja, then check out our beef stew and dumplings, beef goulash, slow cooker beef stew and more comforting stew recipes.

Recipe tip: Traditionally this dish is made the night before so the juices really seep into the beef. I usually cook this towards the end of the night, leaving it in its juices (don’t reduce the sauce and liquid at this stage, as you want the beef to keep its moisture). I cover the pan with foil and cover it with a lid. When you are ready to serve, remove the foil and lid, and put the pan on a low heat about an hour before you want to serve it. This is a slow process but well worth it. It’s a labour of love.

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Ingredients

  • beef 1kg (skirt, flank, bavette or chuck), cut into four even pieces
  • sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • whole black peppercorns a few
  • red chilli 1, finely diced
  • onions 2, chopped
  • garlic 5 cloves, smashed
  • olive oil a drizzle
  • passata 500g
  • chopped tomatoes 400g tin
  • red wine 200ml
  • beef stock (or the beef cooking liquid) 750ml
  • green pitted olives 100g, roughly chopped
  • coriander a bunch, chopped

MARINADE

  • limes 3, juiced
  • orange 1, juiced
  • garlic 3 cloves, crushed

SOFRITO

  • olive oil 2 tbsp
  • onions 1½, finely chopped
  • garlic 4 cloves, crushed
  • bay leaves 2
  • smoked paprika 1½ tsp
  • ground cumin 1 tsp
  • dried oregano ½ tsp
  • roasted red peppers from a jar 2, sliced

Method

  • Step 1

    To marinate the beef, tip into a bowl and add the lime and orange juices, and the garlic. Chill overnight or for up to 24 hours.

  • Step 2

    Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan or casserole. Drain the meat from the marinade and brown, in batches, for 1 minute on each side until caramelised. Add all of the beef back to the pan and then add enough water to completely cover the beef. Add the peppercorns, chilli, onions and garlic. Cook gently for 2 hours, topping up the water as necessary, until the beef is meltingly tender. Remove the beef from the liquid and use two forks to shred the meat. Strain the liquid and keep it aside for later.

  • Step 3

    For the sofrito, put the olive oil in a large frying pan over a low heat with the onions, garlic, bay, paprika, cumin and oregano. Cook for 3 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn, then add the peppers and stir everything together. Season to taste and continue cooking for 10 minutes.

  • Step 4

    Add the shredded beef to a drizzle of oil in a pan on a medium heat, and fry the beef until a few pieces go almost a little crispy. After 1-2 minutes, add the sofrito, along with the passata, tomatoes and wine. Let it simmer for a few minutes over a low heat, then add a ladleful or two of the stock every couple of minutes. After 20 minutes, add the olives and most of the coriander.

  • Step 5

    Turn up the heat and cook for 35 minutes until cooked through and ready to serve – it should be juicy and bubbling. Serve with the remaining coriander sprinkled on top and a small wedge of lime for squeezing over.

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Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 686
  • Fat 32.7g
  • Saturates 9.9g
  • Carbs 24.9g
  • Sugars 19.7g
  • Fibre 7.7g
  • Protein 59.8g
  • Salt 1.4g
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