Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ropa Vieja


 After spending less than a year in her first apartment, Jenn is currently in the process of moving into a new one, due to a fortuitous change of sales territory.  Since last Wednesday, it seems as if she has been in one stage or another in the moving process.  The "highlight" of this adventure came when she and I chose not to take apart her couch but rather keep in it intact.  We lugged it down from the second floor, loaded it in the minivan, drove it from one small town to another, and hauled it up two narrow flights of stairs only to have to disassemble it to get it through her doorway! Yesterday found me battling yet another piece of Ikea furniture, and this particular dresser was winning the war.  I was tired, achy, frustrated, and hungry.  Jenn's new digs are in within walking distance of several cute little places to eat.  I set off to find a sensible salad, but instead found myself drawn to a charmingly simple place that had the menu items written on a chalkboard.  One of the offerings listed was Ropa Vieja, a satisfying stew that can have either a Spanish or Carribean slant.  Translated from Spanish, it means "old clothes" which might either indicate that the ingredients resemble colorful pieces of cloth or the fact that it can be made with leftover meat. The Carribean version usually uses flank or skirt steak, but the Spainish one uses any meat - pork, chicken, beef - along with eggplant and chickpeas.  I ditched my plan for a salad and opted instead for the Roba Vieja - definitely more of a reward!  Tonight I made it again with the remains of Sunday's roast beef.  My take on this old classic leans more toward the Cuban tradition, although ease of preparation beat out total authenticity



1 pound leftover beef shredded or cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 sliced onion

2 sliced peppers, different colors

1/4 cup matchstick or sliced carrots     

1 small jalapena, seeded and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed                    

1 (15 oz.) can of beef broth

1 (15 oz.) can of diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons sliced black olives

3 tablespoon sliced green olives





Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion, peppers, carrots, and jalapena until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for at least 20 minutes. Take out the bay leaf before serving. This is usually eaten on top of rice with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce. However, if you watch carbs as I do, it's just as yummy to eat it without the addition of a starch!

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