ROPA VIEJA (“old clothes” in Spanish, braised beef with peppers and onions, for eight)
3 pounds skirt or flank steak, trimmed and, if necessary, cut into 6 to 8 inch section to fit into pot
8 cups water
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 Turkish bay leaf, or ½ California bay leaf
6 garlic cloves, 3 lightly crushed, 3 minced
1-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch wide strips
one 14 to 16 ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained (juice reserved) and chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 cup frozen peas (not thawed)
½ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained and halved
cooked rice to accompany
- Combine beef, water, carrots, chopped onion, celery, bay leaf, crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and peppercorns in a 5-quart heavy pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, skimming froth as needed, until beef is tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove from heat and let meat cool in cooking liquid for 30 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a large plate. Pour liquid through a large sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids. Discard solids and skim fat. Return liquid to pot, bring to a boil and boil until reduced to about 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Pour reduced cooking liquid into a bowl. Wipe out pot.
- While liquid reduces, with your fingers, pull meat into roughly 3 by ½ inch shreds. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in cleaned pot over moderate heat. Add green bell peppers and red onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add shredded meat, 2 cups cooking liquid, tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, minced garlic, remaining ¼ teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt, and ground pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add red and yellow bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes.
- Stir peppers into stew, along with enough of the remaining cooking liquid to thin to the desired consistency. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in peas and olives and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Serve with Caribbean yellow rice.
NOTE: The beef can be simmered and the cooking liquid reduced up to 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then refrigerate separately, covered.
from The Gourmet Cookbook