One of my all time favorite dishes is ropa vieja. It is a well known shredded beef and veggie dish in the Caribbean. It is so loved in Cuba that it’s their national dish! I’ve had it before with rice, beans and fried plantains but I had it at a restaurant in Miami called Puerto Sagua and fell in love with it all over again. The meat is so tender and juicy and all the different ingredients come together so perfectly. This is a more macro friendly spin on it as the fried plantains are on the more indulgent side. Pairing it with sweet potato still hits the spot for me though. Enjoy!
-2 sweet potatoes
-3 pounds flank or chuck roast
-3-4 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tablespoons salt
-5 cloves minced garlic
-4 teaspoons paprika
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1 teaspoon black pepper
-1 can peeled crushed or diced tomato
-1/2 cup sugar free white grape juice
-2 teaspoons white vinegar
-2 bell peppers, chopped
-2 onions, chopped
-Optional toppings for the baked potato include: sour cream, guac, plantain chips, cilantro, and salsa
Part I. The sweet potatoes
Start with the sweet potato since that is something that can be done ahead of time.
1.) Wash and dry sweet potato.
2.) Poke it with a fork 5 times.
3.) Put sweet potato in plate and microwave for 5 minutes. (If it’s still not cooked after the 5 minutes, microwave it a bit more in 30 second increments until it’s tender.)
4.) Split down the middle and season with a little salt and pepper.
Part II. The Ropa Vieja
The ropa vieja I make in the instant pot.
Use about 3 pounds of chuck roast or flank.
1.) Set the instant pot to sauté and sauté the meat in a little bit of olive oil.
2.) Once the meat has a caramelization, you can get started on the sauce. Add in the following ingredients: 2 tablespoons salt, 5 cloves garlic, 4 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 can peeled tomato, 1/2 cup sugar free white grape juice and 2 teaspoons white vinegar.
3.) Stir everything in and set to pressure cook (high) on 60-90 minutes (depending on how much meat you used. If you only used 2 pounds, do 60 minutes. If you did 3-3.5 pounds then do 90 minutes.)
4.) Once the timer goes off, allow it to natural release. You can now shred the meat. Depending on which cut of meat you chose, some are easier to shred than others.
5.) Add in the 2 chopped onions and 2 chopped bell peppers. We are adding these in after the ropa vieja is done because if we put them in during the pressure cooking process, they would have completely cooked down and disappeared in that high of pressure and length of time. Set the instant pot to saute and allow to saute for 5-8 minutes or until the onions and peppers have wilted down.
6.) Finally, you can now assemble your loaded sweet potato. I put ropa vieja first, then guac and sour cream on top. I also love adding some plantain chips on top for crunch. Garnish with cilantro too if you’d like.
No instant pot? No problem!
Here is the alternate way to make the ropa vieja on the stove:
Follow the steps above but do so on the stove (ie in a pot on medium to high heat). Depending on how much meat you are cooking, allow the ropa vieja to cook on low-medium heat for 2-4 hours (with the veggies in the pot.)
-You can do this with leaner meat too. Just shred it up as much as you can. If you are not able to shred it, just cut into small pieces and assemble like you normally would. Leaner meat is harder to shred since the fattiness is what makes meat easily shreddable. It would be just as tasty though.
-You can eat ropa vieja with any sides you’d like but traditionally its eaten with white rice, black beans and fried plantains.