Smokey Pumpkin & Chipotle Ropa Vieja

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In a really intriguing holiday flourish, feel empowered to prepare this soul-satisfying dish beloved by Cubans everywhere. It’s known as “old clothes” – ropa vieja – because the shredded beef must have reminded somebody of that, or those, long ago.

To Braise:
3 pounds flank or skirt steak
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped 
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery with leaves, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups beef broth
6 cups water 

To Finish:
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large jar Mom’s brand Smokey Pumpkin & Chipotle Sauce
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup pimento-stuffed Spanish olives, sliced in half
Prepared yellow rice
Prepared black beans

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the beef on both sides in the olive oil, then add the onion, carrot and celery, stirring until lightly caramelized. Stir in the garlic and bay leaf for only a minute. Add the oregano, cumin, salt and peppercorns, follows by the broth and water. Set pot in oven and cook until beef is tender, 90 minutes to 2 hours, covering for about half the time. Remove beef from liquid when tender and let cool enough to handle. Strain pot liquid for use in next step. Discard braising vegetables.

In the same pot or Dutch oven, lightly caramelize the peppers and onion in the olive oil. Shred the beef using a fork and add to the pot, along with the Mom’s sauce, tomato paste and about 2 cups of the braising liquid. Add more liquid if a “brothier” sauce is desired. Season with cumin, paprika and oregano. Stir in the olives. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes to let flavors combine. Serve with yellow rice and black beans. Serves 8.


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