This lovely beef stew from Cuba is the perfect dinner dish if you love Caribbean flavors. Cuban ropa vieja has some great complex flavors but is easy to prepare and will be a rousing success at the dinner table.

– 1½ pounds [700 grams] flank steak or chuck roast – 1 tablespoon kosher salt – 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil – 2 cups of beef broth or chicken broth – 1 bay leaf – 1 teaspoon of dried oregano – ½ teaspoon of ground cumin – 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika  – 2 tablespoons of olive oil – 1 large yellow onion, chopped – 3 garlic cloves, minced – 1 red bell pepper cut into thin strips – 2 tablespoons of tomato paste – ½ cup of pitted green olives  – 4 chopped plum tomatoes – Fresh cilantro


Pat the meat with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Season the meat with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven to medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook until it has browned, turn, and brown all over.

Step 1:

Lower the heat to medium, and pour in 4 cups of water and broth, scraping the brown bits stuck to the pot. Add the bay leaf, oregano, and cumin. Cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is so tender that you can pull off strands of it with a fork. This takes about 2 hours in a regular pot. Turn the meat, and add water regularly to keep the same liquid level.

Step 2:

Once the meat is tender, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook and stir until the onion has turned translucent. Add the red pepper and cook until it is heated through. Stir in the tomato paste, add the tomatoes or tomato sauce, and olives. Cover and simmer until you shred the meat.

Step 3:

Remove the meat from the liquid (set the broth aside), and using two forks, shred it into thin strips about the length and size of the pepper strips. Add the shredded beef and broth to the pot, increase heat to medium-high, and let the liquids reduce until the meat is very juicy but not soupy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4:

Remove the meat from the heat, discard the bay leaf, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Step 5:

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