Friday, February 17, 2017

Cubano Ropa Vieja

     Cuban Style Shredded Clothes!    
     It may be difficult to get excited about an entrée that translates as "shredded clothes or shredded rope."  All it takes is one taste to see why Ropa Vieja really is something to get excited about.  Ropa Vieja is an interesting traditional Cuban recipe that is a popular restaurant offering in the Southwest and Florida.  Ropa Vieja is slow cooked stew of tender, hand shredded beef.  
     Flank Steak is the easiest cut of beef to work with when making Ropa Vieja, because this section of beef is very lean and the long grain of the meat is easily shredded after it becomes tender.  Lean long grain cuts from the chuck section are also a good choice, but any excess fat must be trimmed off. 
    In Cuba, both pork and beef are used for this recipe, but beef is the top choice.  There are Mexican recipe variations of Ropa Vieja that require more chile peppers, so the flavor can be a bit more spicy.  Cuban cuisine tends to be savory and not spicy, so a traditional Cuban Ropa Vieja will please guests that prefer mild rich flavors.  
     Ropa Vieja:  
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.  (About 2 1/3 cups.)
     The beef must be slow cooked till it is tender enough to shred.  This process takes plenty of time!
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Add an 8 ounce piece of flank steak. 
     Sauté the flank steak till it is lightly browned on both sides. 
     Step 2:  Add three whole garlic cloves.  
     Continue cooking the steak, till the garlic turns a golden brown color.  (Flip the steak occasionally.)  
     Step 3:  Add enough beef broth to cover the steak with 1" of extra liquid.  
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.  (optional)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper. 
     Bring the broth to a gentle boil.  
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.  
     Gently simmer till the meat is very tender and it is able to shred.  (About 2 to 3 hours.  Add water as necessary to keep the flank steak covered.)
     Step 5:   Remove the tender flank steak from the pot and place it in a mixing bowl.  (Leave the pot of broth on low heat.)
     Let the flank steak cool to room temperature.
     Shred the tender flank steak into thin strands that resemble shredded rope.  
     Step 6:  Return the shredded beef to the pot of broth over low heat. 
     Add 1/4 cup of thin julienne sliced onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of 1/4" thick green bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/4 cup of 1/4" thick red bell pepper strips.  
     Add 1 green onion that is cut into 1" long pieces.
     Step 7:  *Check the level of broth.  If necessary, add enough water to cover the ingredients with 1/2" of extra liquid.     
     Gently simmer till the vegetables are tender and till the stewing broth reduces to just below the level of solid ingredients.  The finished volume should be about 2 1/3 cups.  
     *The amount of stewing broth should be just enough to keep the finished Ropa Vieja wet.
     Keep the Ropa Vieja warm over very low heat. 

     Use a slotted spoon to mound the Ropa Vieja meat and vegetables in a shallow individual portion casserole dish. 
     Add enough of the stewing broth to fill the casserole dish. 
     Place the casserole dish on a doily lined serving platter. 
     Serve with plain white long grain rice on the side.
     Serve with thick sliced Cuban Bread on the side.   
     The flavor of Cuban style Ropa Vieja is savory and comfortable!  Cuban Bread is great for soaking up the stewing broth.  Ropa Vieja can be served any season and it adds warmth to a chilly day! 

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