Cuban Beef Stew (Ropa Vieja)

Cuban Beef Stew (Ropa Vieja)
Rinaldo Wurglitsch/Flickr
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
499 Calories
22g Fat
28g Carbs
47g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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.

This beef stew is hearty enough to eat on its own but also goes well over rice dishes and soaked up with crusty bread. 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.

In this Spanish version of ropa vieja, garbanzo beans are used in place of the peas used in this recipe. This can be served with low-carb tortillas, avocado, and cilantro. 


  • 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.

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

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

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

  5. Transfer the meat only to a platter to cool and discard the cooking liquid, onion, garlic, and celery.

  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.

Prepare the Stew

  1. Gather the stew ingredients and cooked steak.

  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.

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

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

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

  6. Remove the bay leaves.

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

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

Recipe Tags: