Cuban Beef Stew (Ropa Vieja)

Cuban Beef Stew (Ropa Vieja)

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
499 Calories
22g Fat
28g Carbs
47g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 499
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 29%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 119mg 40%
Sodium 1331mg 58%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Protein 47g
Calcium 160mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Cuban beef stew is known as ropa vieja which means "old clothes" in Spanish. The name describes the shreds of meat and vegetables in the dish which resemble colorful strips of rags.

The beef must be cooked and shredded first. For convenience, you can prepare the beef the day before and refrigerate overnight to save time the next day. Flank is typically used, but chuck roast has a bit more flavor and is great for slow cooking. Brisket is another good option.

This beef stew is hearty enough to eat on its own but also goes well over rice dishes and soaked up with crusty bread. You can also serve it with plantains, yellow rice or white rice and black beans, or yuca con mojo. In the Spanish version of ropa vieja, garbanzo beans are used in place of the peas used in this recipe.

"Ropa Vieja was quintessential in my home growing up in Southern Florida. This recipe delivers all those cozy, warm flavors with pantry staples you probably already have on hand and minimal effort. It's easy to adapt to make it your own as well." —Lauryn Bodden

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Ingredients

  • For the Steak:
  • 2 pounds flank steak (or chuck roast)
  • 1 large onion (quartered)
  • 2 cloves garlic (smashed)
  • 1 large celery rib (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • For the Stew:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 large onion (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 large green bell pepper (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup cooked sweet peas (frozen and thawed are okay)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Steak

  1. Gather the steak ingredients.

    steak ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Place the steak into a large stockpot and add water to cover the steak completely.

    Place the steak into a large stockpot and add water to cover the steak

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the quartered onion, smashed garlic, chopped celery, and salt.

    Add the quartered onion, smashed garlic, chopped celery, and salt to the steak in the pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce to moderate heat and cook until steak is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

    ingredients cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Transfer the meat only to a platter to cool. You can skim and strain the cooking liquid (discarding the onion, garlic, and celery) and save it for another recipe.

    cooked steak on a platter

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Shred it with two forks when the meat is cool enough to handle. At this point, you can refrigerate the meat overnight if desired, or carry on with cooking.

    steak pulled apart with forks

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prepare the Stew

  1. Gather the stew ingredients and cooked steak.

    stew ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. In a large skillet or pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until soft, about 1 minute.

    garlic cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the sliced onion and bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

    onions, peppers and garlic cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Stir in the diced tomatoes, sherry, bay leaves, cumin, and a pinch of salt.

    add tomatoes and spices the onion and pepper mixture in the skillet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook for 25 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking.

    vegetables cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Remove the bay leaves.

    remove the bay leaves from the vegetable mixture in the skillet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Stir in the shredded beef and cook for about 10 minutes until the beef is heated through.

    beef an vegetables cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  8. Stir in the peas. Turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with rice if desired.

    Cuban Beef Stew (Ropa Vieja)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variations

  • Deglaze with 1/2 cup white wine for added acidity and complexity.
  • Add pimiento or manzanilla Spanish olives.
  • Use canned tomatoes if you can't find good fresh tomatoes.
  • Add some beef broth for a saucier Ropa Vieja.

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