ROPA VIEJA (“old clothes” in Spanish, braised beef with peppers and onions, for eight)

Beef, stews, ropa vieja 1 Beef, stews, ropa vieja 3

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. While liquid reduces, with your fingers, pull meat into roughly 3 by ½ inch shreds. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

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