Ropa Vieja is a shredded flank stead dish that originates from Cuba and the main flavor of the dish is of tomato sauce, which forms the base of the dish. It also contains black beans, plantains, fried yucca, and is generally served with yellow rice. This dish is usually served with beer and is a popular dish of the Caribbean, which includes Panama, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic other than Cuba. Other regions that include this recipe in their cuisines are the Canary Islands, Cadiz and Greater Miami. The dish gets its name from of the way it is cooked first, shredded and then cooked with other ingredients and the method of preparing the meat resembles old or shredded clothes.
Ropa Vieja can be spiced up further by adding extra hot green chilies and jalapenos.
History of Ropa Vieja Recipe
Ropa Vieja is considered to be a Cuban dish; however, the dish actually originates from the Canary Islands of Spain. The seaport of Canary Islands was the first port where the ships going from Spain to America stopped and on their return, these Islands were the last stop. During this process of transit, the Canarian culture migrated to the Caribbean this meat dish’s recipe too got imbibed into the Caribbean culture, which is quite similar to Canarian Spanish culture. Though the original version of the dish was a result of using leftovers, today, the meat is specifically cooked and shredded and cooked with other ingredients such as potatoes, chick peas and other vegetables of choice.
There is another theory to the origin of this wholesome dish, though it is considered just that – a story. A poor man, who was expecting his family home for dinner, prepared the dish with shredded clothes after imparting his love on to them, as he did not money to buy the ingredients required. Because of his love for his family, the shredded clothes dish turned into the delicious beef stew that is popular today.
Preparation of the Dish
Ropa Vieja is made with shredded flank steak (that has been pre-cooked), green peppers, onions, tomato sauce, carrots and sofrito sauce. The dish is spiced & flavored with garlic, black pepper, bay leaf, oregano, parsley and salt. Browned meat and vegetables such as sliced onions and diced green pepper falvored with garlic are cooked together along with tomato sauce, sofrito sauce, black pepper powder and salt. This meat dish is best as an accompaniment with rice.
Variations of Ropa Vieja Recipe
Ropa Vieja has some variations in terms of the meat that is used. Instead of flank steak, even beef, chicken or pork or all three can also be used together. The Cuban version of this dish does not include potatoes or garbanzo beans. This version of the dish is made with only shredded meat cooked in tomato sauce. The Venezuelan version of the dish is prepared with a variety of shredded meat cooked in sauce and Mechada is the name for this version.