Ropa Vieja

by Lauren

A deliciously meaty and flavorful Cuban meal – not “old clothes”.


That was what all my I-took-high-school-Spanish friends thought I was brewing up for them though. Incidentally, it is now one of my all time favorite comfort food meals. It was a breeze to make and turned out perfectly.

It’s definitely not what your Cuban grandmother might call “authentic” but no body was complaining! Maybe expectations for “old clothes” were low but it’s fair to say this dish exceeded even mine.

I served it with authentic corn tortillas. White rice is also an option if that suits your fancy taste buds. I must say, adding to scrambled eggs the next morning was better than any corn tortilla or helping of rice.


The flavors really melded over night in the refrigerator and the shredded meat had such a savory, juicy tenderness! My mouth is literally watering thinking about this dish.

While you do need a few hours to let the meat simmer, other than that this dish is so easy to throw together for a crowd – I couldn’t believe it.

I promise you this, your neighbors will be stopping by once you get it going on the stove. It smells fantastic. We were pretty sure it permeated the walls because when I woke up, I was still smelling it’s deliciousness.


Ropa Vieja
Adapted from Michael Chiarello


3-4 pounds skirt steak or flank steak
4 medium onions, coarsely chopped and separated into 2 parts
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced or grated on microplane 
1 jalapeno, minced 
3 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon salt 
2-14.5 ounce cans no salt added diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin


In a large stock pot, put in the meat, 2 chopped onions, carrot, celery and bay leaf. Cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When meat is very tender, turn off heat and let meat cool in liquid for about 20 minutes, remove from broth. Set aside. Strain broth through a sieve into another large pot and discard vegetables. Return broth to heat, add wine, and boil to reduce by half, about 20 to 30 minutes. When meat is cool, cut off any fat and pull into shreds about 1 inch wide.

While broth is reducing, heat oil in a large skillet. Over medium heat, cook the remaining half of onions, the garlic, jalapeno, green peppers until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt.

Stir in 3 cups reduced broth, vinegar, and tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir in shredded meat, cilantro, oregano, thyme, and cumin. Cook 10 minutes more. Serve with corn tortillas or rice.

Don’t forget to add leftovers to scrambled eggs the next morning!

Serves 8-10


From the Little Yellow Kitchen,


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2 Comments to “Ropa Vieja”

  1. so funny, we just made this dish at my house like a week or two ago. My family is Ecuadorian so we cook a lot of dishes like this. Im glad you all tried and loved it. Next you need to make a pork leg, made correctly its amazing. Then with left overs you make Quban sandwiches. makes me hungry thinking about it.

  2. Ohh this is so tasty. I love the flavors :) And the leftover suggestions are great! It’d make a really awesome sub for huevos rancheros I think!