Ropa Vieja, or “old clothes,” describes the shreds of meat, peppers, and onions resembling a mess of colorful rags this is a Cuban specialty.
|(Braised Beef, Peppers, and Onions)
Ropa Vieja, or “old clothes,” describes the shreds of meat, peppers, and onions resembling a mess of colorful rags. Robust stews such as this Cuban specialty are at the heart of West Indian cuisine.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
For braising beef:
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
a 14- to 16-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice, chopped
To braise beef:
In a 5-quart kettle combine all braising ingredients and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours, or until beef is tender. Remove kettle from heat and cool meat in liquid 30 minutes. Transfer meat to a platter and cover. Strain braising liquid through a colander, pressing on solids, into a bowl. Return braising liquid to kettle and boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Stew may be made up to this point 1 day ahead. Cool braising liquid completely and chill it and the beef separately, covered.
In kettle cook green bell peppers and onion in 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.
While vegetables are cooking, pull meat into shreds about 3 by 1/2 inches. To onion mixture add shredded meat, 2 cups braising liquid, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.
While stew is simmering, in a large skillet cook red and yellow bell peppers in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir peppers into stew with enough additional braising liquid to thin to desired consistency and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in peas and olives and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.
Serve Ropa Vieja with yellow rice.
For yellow rice with toasted cumin:
In a heavy 3-quart saucepan heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté cumin seed 10 seconds, or until it turns a few shades darker and is fragrant. Stir in saffron and rice and sauté, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, or until rice is coated well. Stir in water and salt and boil rice, uncovered and without stirring, until surface of rice is covered with steam holes and grains on top appear dry, 8 to 10 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and let rice stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.