Cuban Braised Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)
I loved braised beef. I adore Cuban food. Mixing them together makes this boy very happy. Traditional Cuban Braised Shredded Beef or more commonly known in Cuba as Ropa Vieja it a two step process and adds considerable time to making the dish. I think taking the extra steps to deepen the flavor profile can be excellent if you have all day to do it. I ain’t got that time folks. I suspect that neither do you. This is why I love this recipe as it combines building a beef stock and blooming the spices into one step in your Dutch oven. The value to this time saver is that is where all the beef’s juices end up any way for the final dish – so why do the extra steps?
I have tried several different cuts in this recipe and ultimately circled back to original cut that the America’s Test Kitchen started off with. Beef Brisket. I think it is a perfect mix of yields perfect, juicy and just tender shreds of beef (Ropa Vieja). Time saving tip is to cut the brisket a head of the cook into 2 inch wise strips, this will also simplify the shredding process post cook.
Searing the meat prior to the long slow cook in the Dutch oven also helps you to build more meaty flavor that your family will adore. I like to add two anchovies when I am searing the meat. I love the salty right taste it brings to the meat. Additionally you can also take the time to slowly caramelizing the onions and pepper strips, this will mimic a sofrito. Sofrito’s are easy to make, it just takes some time to develop the flavors, and if your into great taste and saving time – this recipe is right up your ally.
- 1 2-pound beef brisket trim the fat to 1/4 inch
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 onions, cut in half and then sliced thin
- 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and then sliced and cut into 1/4 inch strips
- 2 anchovy fillets, rinse, pat dry, and minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped coarse
- 3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
- Heat your oven to 300 degrees F. and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- Cut the brisket against the grain into 2" thick strips. Cut longer strips in half crosswise. Season the brisket on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Heat the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of oil and allow it to heat until it is just smoking. Brown the brisket on all sides, this should take about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a large plate and tent with aluminum foil.
- To the heated Dutch oven add the onions, bell pepper and cook until the vegetables just soften and the pan develops a brown fond on the bottom. This should take a good 10 - 15 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
- In the dutch oven add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, and then add your anchovies, garlic, cumin and oregano and cook until it just becomes fragrant, this should only take about 30 seconds. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the brown bits. Cook this liquid until it is almost evaporated. Stir in the broth, tomato sauce and bay leaves. Return the beef and any juices to the pot and allow to come to a simmer over high heat. Transfer the Dutch oven to oven and allow to cook, covered, until the beef just becomes tender. This should take 2 to 2 1/4 hours of time. Flip the meat 1/2 through the cooking time.
- Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Remove any bay leaves. Allow to cool so you can handle the beef, shred it into 1/4 inch thick pieces.
- Add the olives and reserved vegetables to the pot and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. simmer until it thickens and measures 4 cups. This should take about 7 minutes. Stir in the beef, add the vinegar and season with kosher salt, pepper and any extra vinegar to taste.
- Serve over black beans and rice.