Ropa Vieja (Instant Pot or Stove Top Recipe)

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Ropa Vieja is a Cuban dish made with shredded beef that has been slowly cooked with onions, peppers, olives, tomato sauce, and spices like cumin and oregano.

Ropa Vieja with rice and avocado

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja is one of my favorite Cuban dishes, served over white rice and accompanied with black beans. It’s considered a comfort food and is often served on special occasions or at family gatherings. The name “ropa vieja” literally translates to “old clothes” in Spanish, and the dish is named this way because the shredded beef used in the recipe resembles torn or tattered clothing. Leftovers can be made into tacos, bowlsserved over loaded fries, and more! More Latin beef recipes you will love are Picadillo, Carnitas and Mexican Beef.

shredded beef with olives

There’s many ways to make this, and it may be slightly different in each home. This is how my cousin makes it, and it’s delicious! She uses the Instant Pot but if you don’t have one, you can do it on the stove (Note: this will take more time).

Ingredients

  • Steak: Cut two pounds of flank steak into large pieces.
  • Beef Spices: Salt, sazondried oregano, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper
  • Tomato Paste: You’ll need a whole can of tomato paste to make the sauce.
  • Broth: If you don’t have chicken broth, vegetable or beef broth will work too.
  • Wine: Choose a good-quality dry white wine.
  • Vegetables: Yellow or white onion, green and red bell peppers, carrots
  • Garlic: Cut four to six garlic cloves into quarters depending on the size of the cloves and how much garlic you like.
  • Olives: Slice a half cup of pitted green olives.
  • Bay Leaves impart flavor as they simmer in the broth.
  • Cilantro: If you don’t like cilantro, don’t fret – it’s optional!

How to Make Ropa Vieja

  • Season the beef with salt, Sazón, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper.
  • Tomato Sauce: Whisk the tomato paste, wine, and broth in a medium bowl. If you’re cooking this dish on the stoveuse 3 cups of broth – you’ll need more since some of it will evaporate on the stove.
  • Sauté: Heat the Instant Pot by setting it on the sauté button. Add the oil and then the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and cook for three to four minutes until softened. Then press cancel. On the stovedo the same thing but in a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat.
  • Nestle the meat into the onions so half are on the bottom and half above the meat. Add the carrots, olives, bay leaves, and cilantro (if using). Pour the tomato sauce over the mixture.
  • Instant Pot: Put the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on high for 45 minutes. Once done, unplug the pot and do a natural release.
  • Stove: Bring the pot to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the meat easily shreds. It should take about one and a half to two hours. Add more water if it gets too dry.
  • Shred the beefdiscard the bay leaves, and top with more cilantro if desired.

Serving Ideas

My cousin has a food truck in Florida and makes this ropa vieja recipe pretty much every day. She serves loaded fries, where she tops fries with this shredded beef, cheese, and all the fixings. I personally prefer traditional ropa vieja served over rice with Cuban style black beans. Some people like it with sweet plantains on the side, but I think a cabbage slaw or avocado is also great. You can also add the meat to tacos, quesadillas, or burritos.

Variations

Ropa vieja will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. After that, if you still have leftovers, freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To thaw, put it in the fridge the day before and reheat it in the microwave or on the stove.

How to Freeze

  • Flank Steak Substitutes: Skirt steak or chuck beef will also work but will have more fat.
  • Protein: I have made this ropa vieja recipe with chicken thighs instead of beef.
  • Wine: If you don’t like cooking with wine, sub more broth.
  • Bell Peppers: Feel free to use whichever color bell peppers you have.
  • Other Ingredients: You can also add capers and raisins.
Ropa Vieja
Ropa Vieja with white rice

More Cuban Recipes You’ll Love

Prep: 20 mins

Cook: 1 hr 15 mins

Total: 1 hr 35 mins

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 3 /4 generous cup

For the pot:

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste, from 1 can
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, or use more broth
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, not sweet, sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced ​​thin
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced ​​thin
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, cut into quarters
  • 1 large carrots, cut into 1” inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup green pitted olives, sliced
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)

Instant Pot Method:

  • Season the beef with salt, sazon, cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder and black pepper.

  • In a medium bowl whisk together tomato paste, white wine and chicken broth.

  • Press saute and add the oil in the instant pot, add the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Saute 3 to 4 minutes stirring, until softened then press cancel.

  • Nestle the meat into the onions so that half are on the bottom and half are above the meat. Add the carrots, olives and bay leaves (and cilantro, if using).

  • Pour the tomato sauce over the meat, cover and close the pressure cooker.

  • Set to sealing and cook high pressure for 45 minutes. Then unplug the instant pot and do the natural release.

  • Shred the beef in the pot and discard the bay leaves.

  • Serve with rice, over bowls, tacos, etc. topped with more cilantro, if desired.

Stove Top Method:

  • Season the beef with salt, sazon, cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder and black pepper.

  • In a medium bowl whisk together tomato paste, white wine and 3 cups of chicken broth (you’ll need more on the stove with evaporation than the Instant Pot).

  • Heat a large Dutch oven and add the oil, onions, bell peppers and garlic. Saute over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes stirring, until softened.

  • Nestle the meat into the onions so that half are on the bottom and half are above the meat. Add the carrots, olives and bay leaves (and cilantro, if using).

  • Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the meat, bring to a boil and cover.

  • Reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat shreds easily with 2 forks, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water if it gets too dry.

  • Shred the beef in the pot and discard the bay leaves.

  • Serve with rice, over bowls, tacos, etc. topped with more cilantro, if desired.

Last Step:

please leave a rating and comment letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business to thrive and continue providing free, high-quality recipes for you.

If you want the sauce thicker, in the Instant Pot press saute and let it boil until the liquid reduces.
On the stove, simmer uncovered until the liquid reduce.

Serving: 3 /4 generous cup, Calories: 350 kcal, Carbohydrates: 11.5 g, Protein: 35 g, Fat: 15.5 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Cholesterol: 64 mg, Sodium: 982.5 mg, Fiber: 2.5 g, Sugar: 5 g

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