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Ropa Vieja | Cuban Beef Stew

Introduction & method

Ropa Vieja is a dish of shredded beef with peppers in a tomatoey saauce. At least it is in this Cuban version. It originated in the Canary Islands and is popular throughout Latin America, the Philippines and Spain. The name means 'old clothes', which is what it is supposed to look like.

Ropa Vieja | Cuban Beef Stew Recipe

About the beef

Traditionally, ropa vieja would use cheap flank steak - its coarse grain would break down into the long shreds that are a characteristic of this dish. Chuck steak, brisket or skirt can also be used. In the UK flank steak is known as bavette.

Cook the beef

Cut the beef into 3-4 chunks lengthwise. Cut an onion, a carrot and a stick of celery into large chunks. Put them into a saucepan, dutch oven, pressure cooker or slow cooker/crockpot and add enough water to cover them. Add a bay leaf, a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for the following times: saucepan on stove, 3-3½ hours; pressure cooker, 30 minutes; slow cooker, 6-8 hours. When the meat is tender, remove it and allow to cool a bit before tearing into shreds with two forks, like pulled pork. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Prep the vegetables

Cut the bell peppers and onion into strips. Mince the garlic cloves, chop the tomatoes and halve the olives.

Cook the ropa vieja

Heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook the onion on low for about five minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the bell peppers and sauté for a few minutes more. Pour in the tomatoes and some of the cooking liquid. Add a bay leaf, the cumin and smoked paprika and the beef. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it cook for about ten minutes - you want the sauce to reduce somewhat. Finally, add the roasted red pepper, olives and capers, cook for a few minutes and then serve with rice and black  beans.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Ropa Vieja | Cuban Beef Stew on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 500 grams flank steak
 1 carrot
 1 stick celery
 1 medium onion
 1 bay leaf
 pinch of salt
 pinch of ground black pepper
 400 grams can of tomatoes
 1 medium onion
 1 red bell pepper
 1 green bell pepper
 1 bay leaf
 pinch of salt
 pinch of ground black pepper
 1 tsp ground cumin
 1 tsp ground oregano
 half a tsp smoked paprika
 2 tbsp green olives
 1 small roasted red pepper

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4 -6
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 4 hours.
Total time: 4 hours 10 minutes.