Ropa Vieja

Things have been hectic lately! My mom and I have been working like crazy to get the wedding squared away (especially my mom; I don’t know what I’d do without her). We’ve got a venue, the food pretty much planned out, linens, chairs, a photographer, music, invitations almost finished, still working on the flowers and some of the decorations, I have my dress, the boys all need tuxes still, and we need an officiant. I think that’s it! It’s all coming together and it’s so crazy how fast the time is passing by!

Now, onto the food. This is the best meal that I’ve made in a long time. If you really want to impress people, I highly recommend trying this dish. I’ve never had ropa vieja (Cuban beef stew) before, but now it’s one of my favorites foods. The skirt steak is simmered with vegetables until so tender it falls apart when pulled with two forks, then it is simmered again in more vegetables, garlic, a bit of stock, and a wonderful array of spices and herbs. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this dish. It goes great with a simple piece of crusty bread or wrapped up in a warm tortilla, and the leftovers are fantastic, as it keeps getting better and better after each day.

Ropa Vieja
Your ingredients.

Ropa Vieja
Roughly chop your first onion.

Ropa Vieja
Chop your celery.

Ropa Vieja
Chop your carrots.

Ropa Vieja
And crush your garlic.

Ropa Vieja
In a large pot, combine the above vegetables with 8 cups of water, the skirt steak, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

Ropa Vieja
Stir well, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 2 hours (I did mine for about an hour and 45 minutes).

Ropa Vieja
While the meat cooks, prepare your other vegetables. Thinly slice your onion.

Ropa Vieja
Thinly slice your green bell pepper.

Ropa Vieja
Your orange bell pepper.

Ropa Vieja
Red bell pepper.

Ropa Vieja
And your yellow bell pepper.

Ropa Vieja
Place the onions and green bell pepper in one plastic bag, then the other bell peppers in another plastic bag. Place in the fridge and clean everything up. This way, you can be much more efficient in the kitchen!

Ropa Vieja
Do the same with the garlic.

Ropa Vieja
When the meat is ready, remove from the pot and place on a cutting board.

Ropa Vieja
Pull the steak apart with two forks and set aside in a medium sized bowl.

Ropa Vieja
Strain the vegetables from the braising liquid and discard the vegetables. Keep the it in a bowl and set aside.

Ropa Vieja
Clean out your pot, heat your 1/4 cup of olive oil in it, and add in your minced garlic, sliced onion, and green bell pepper. Sautee for 5-8 minutes, until just softened.

Ropa Vieja
Add in the tomatoes and simmer for about 8 minutes.

Ropa Vieja
Add the meat back in, along with the braising liquid, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Cover again and simmer for about another hour.

Ropa Vieja
Add in the rest of the bell peppers and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Ropa Vieja
Serve with some crusty bread or a tortilla and enjoy!

Ropa Vieja
Serves 4-6 with 2 pounds, 6-8 with 3 pounds.


Ropa Vieja
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2-3 lbs skirt or flank steak (to serve 4-6, use 2 pounds, to serve 6-8, use 3 pounds)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of your knife
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into long strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into long strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into long strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into long strips
  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups leftover braising liquid (see above)
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Combine ingredients 1-12 in a large stew pot. Bring to a simmer, cover with lid, and cook for two hours, or until meat falls apart easily using a fork. Remove meat from liquid and cool. Strain liquid from pot, and retain it. Discard vegetables and everything else that remains in the strainer.
  2. Clean and dry original stew pot. Heat up oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, green bell pepper and garlic, then saute for 8-10 minutes.
  3. While peppers and onions are cooking, shred the meat.
  4. Add the tomatoes to stew pot. Simmer 10 minutes, then add in all the pulled meat, cumin, paprika, oregano and the braising liquid. Bring to a simmer again, cover, and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Add rest of the bell peppers and cook for another 30 mins.
  6. Serve with crusty bread, wrapped in a warm tortilla, or over rice. This stew tastes even better the next day, and stores well in the fridge for 3-5 days, or you can freeze it.
Adapted From


16 Responses

  1. g says:

    this looks really good! might have to give it a try. could you clarify this part?: “Strain the vegetables from the braising liquid and discard the vegetables. Keep the it in a bowl and set aside.”

  2. Memoria says:

    I don’t think you mentioned this in your post, but “ropa vieja” means “old clothing/clothes” for those who want to know. It is called that because of how the skirt steak looks when you pull the meat apart. It looks like old, wet, clothing haha.

    Anyway, your dish looks good! Congrats on the wedding. I guess I missed the post when you mentioned your engagement. Darn!

  3. INGRID says:

    I’ve had this before at babyshower it is very good. Thanks for sharing. It would be great for a Sunday dinner on a cool day.

  4. thanks for sharing! i’m defo trying this soon.

  5. Linda says:

    I really really really hate onions. Would it still be ohkay if I left out the onions???

  6. Jen T. says:

    Glad to hear the wedding planning is coming along so well, congratulations! I move in with my two guys this week, one of whom isn’t big on veggies, so I have a feeling I’ll be making this once the weather even begins to resemble cool. Thanks for the hint about non-veggie-lovers probably not noticing the vegetables!

  7. lululu says:

    my wedding was pretty small and simple, but when i was planning it, i ate out every nite.
    u could still manage to come up with such delicious dish, what a super bride-to-be. your fiance is lucky!

  8. Jennifer says:

    I don’t know anything about cooking, but I’m trying to learn…that “braising liquid”…you just throw out the vegetables you used when you cooked the meat?

  9. Gwen says:

    Ropa vieja is one of my favorite foods. My Panamanian grandma used to make it for me growing up, so it’s not just Cuban in origin. I’ve never used celery in mine, but I’ll try it next time. A splash of cider vinegar right before serving brightens the flavors even more.

  10. Brian says:

    Clarisa picked a hard/time consuming one for her first dish, but man is it good! Thanks.

  11. […] lots of recipes and all are very similar but I got this one from a link off of Foodgawkers called Crepes of Wrath, (clever name). I did add a finely chopped jalapeño for some heat. Cooking the meat in a crock pot […]

  12. admin says:

    G: It’s just a typo, it’s meant to say keep the liquid in a bowl and set aside.

  13. admin says:

    Memoria: Thanks!

  14. admin says:

    Linda: I don’t think that the onion is strong at all, I might keep it in the braising liquid but not add it into the meat itself.

  15. admin says:

    Jennifer: Yeah, unless you want to keep them to eat, although they’re so mushy by the time you drain the liquid from them that they’re not much good. You can definitely puree them and use them in a soup or something, if you like.

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