The next time you invite Andy Garcia, Desi Arnaz, and Steven Bauer over for dinner, might I suggest you try this Cuban recipe to make them feel right at home. It’s called Ropa Vieja, which means “old clothes” from the ragged look of the shredded beef. I may be arrested for sharing this recipe with you; it is that addictive!
2 lbs. very lean flank steak
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced leeks
1 T. fresh parsley
1 T. tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
2 T. peanut oil
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1-2 fresh stemmed and seeded jalapeño or red chile peppers
1 T. minced garlic
2 cups canned stewed or diced Italian plum tomatoes
1 2-4″ cinnamon stick
1/2 t. ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried
1/2 cup diced canned pimento
Place steak, 1/2 cup onion, carrots, leeks, parsley, tomato paste, and beef broth in a heavy saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until meat is very tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool in the broth. When cool enough to handle, remove meat and pull it apart into thin shreds. Set aside.
Strain the broth, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids. Heat oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the remaining onion, bell peppers, chile, and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are quite soft. Add tomatoes, 1 cup of reserved broth, spices, and herbs, and cook for about 30 minutes or until sauce is very thick. Add the reserved steak, pimento, and 1 cup of reserved broth. Stir to heat through. Remove cinnamon stick and thyme sprig. Serve over rice and black beans.
This recipe serves 6 and has a Weight Watcher’s Points Plus value of 7 points per serving (this is not including your beans and rice!). This comes from one of my favorite cookbooks called “HOT! The Cookbook for Passionate Devotees Who Go Bonkers Over The Incendiary Pleasures of Food That Never Stops Whamming, Popping, or Zapping” by Judith Choate. Legend has it that if you serve this dish to your husband, by the end of the meal he will look exactly like this:
The first time I prepared this dish, I was in my kitchen on Long Island, in the little bungalow where the wild critters once lived. The back door to the waterfront was propped open, and at some point I turned around in the kitchen to find two very tame, extremely calm ducks standing there, watching me. In honor of the dish I was cooking, I promptly named them Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. They spent the remainder of that summer season following Jack and me from room to room all through the house. Come October, they disappeared, to their vacation house in Florida, no doubt. The following May, Ricky Ricardo showed up as if on schedule, but without Lucy in tow. Likely a widower, he appeared quite sad and lonely. Perhaps some Ropa Vieja might have cheered him up, with a nice glass of dry sangria on the side?
Feature photo courtesy of taramtamtam.com