Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef)

  • Serves

    serves 4

This recipe, one of Cuba's favorite traditional dishes, is called ropa vieja ("old clothes") in Spanish, for its texture.


  • 2 small yellow onions, peeled
  • 2 lb. skirt or flank steak
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 small mild chile, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 12 cup tomato puree


Step 1

Quarter 1 of the onions, then put it, steak, bay leaf, and a generous pinch of salt into a large pot. Cover with water by 2" and simmer, skimming occasionally, over medium heat until meat is very tender, about 3 hours. Transfer meat to a cutting board, reserving broth in pot. Trim off fat and gristle, then slice meat across the grain into 2"-wide strips, pound with a mallet, shred, and set aside.

Step 2

Bring reserved broth to a boil over high heat and reduce by half, 10-15 minutes. Strain, discard solids, then set aside 1 cup broth to cool. Reserve remaining broth for another use.

Step 3

Mince remaining onion. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add onions, peppers, garlic, and chiles, and saute until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add parsley, oregano, tomato puree, reserved meat, and broth, and season to taste with salt. Simmer, stirring often, for 20-25 minutes.

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