ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ropa vieva. Cuban cumin scented beef stew. Perfect summer eating!

Updated on November 29, 2008

Savory cumin beef stew

Ropa vieja, translated as old rags, is a Cuban stewed beef dish that tastes a whole lot better than its name would suggest. Tender pulled beef in a rich gravy scented with a touch of cumin…really good. This is a great stew kind of dish, for people oddly craving stew during the heat of summer. This is not heavy, and since it comes from the tropics, it's not winter food, although it is great year round.

The steps as follows take a couple of days to complete, but there's not all that much work involved, and this will make enough for a number of meals, perfect for easy frozen weeknight suppers.

Ropa Vieja

4 pounds of beef chuck or beef brisket, cut into 2 inch cubes, seasoned with salt and freshly cracked black pepper

About 10 ripe plum tomatoes, or a few less beefsteak or other field varieties, roughly chopped

1 big onion, sliced

3-4 mixed sweet peppers (use all green if that's what you have, but a mixture of colors and sweetnesses is better)

4 cloves of garlic

Salt to taste, and cumin to taste, about a ½ tsp to start

Ropa Vieja doesn't require a lengthy list of ingredients, and is quite economical to make.

The first, and arguably most important step, is to brown the meat very well. Meat will never brown after it is added to the liquid for cooking, so any flavor intensifying browning has to happen during this step. Heat your heaviest frying pan over medium heat, and add a good spoonful of vegetable oil. When hot, add as much beef as will fit into the pan, with absolutely no crowding, and brown slowly. Take your time during this step and you will reap the dividends later. Keep frying and turning the beef cubes until they are richly dark brown on all sides. Don't be tempted to crank the heat up to speed the process along, just take it easy, and repeat until all the beef is finished. If you have a couple of good frying pans, you can do two batches at once, to speed the process up a bit.

Take the beef off the heat, and reserve in a bowl, collecting all juices.

In a deep and heavy Dutch oven, or other stewing pot, add a couple of Tbls of olive oil, or vegetable oil, and when hot, add the onion and sauté until softened. When soft, add the minced garlic, and cook for about a minute, before adding all the tomatoes, and their juices. Add the beef to the Dutch oven, and add just enough water to barely cover all of the beef.

Turn the heat down as low as you can, and cover the Dutch oven. Let this cook unattended for 3 or 4 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Only the barest of simmering can be allowed. NEVER LET THIS BOIL!!!

When tender, let cool a bit, and then transfer the lot to a container for a night cooling in its own juices in the fridge, and this will also allow you to skim off any fat that collects from the top.

The next day, sauté your sliced peppers until softened (not tender crisp, but soft) and reserve

Take the stew out of the fridge, and remove any hard fat that has risen to the surface of the liquid. Take the beef cubes out of the stew, and using a fork (or your fingers) shred completely. Add the beef back to the gravy, and also add your sautéed peppers. Back into the Dutch oven it all goes, and warm it gently, to a very gentle simmer, for about half an hour, or until the desired consistency is reached. It should be thick enough that when you plate it, it all stays together well, and no puddle of juice collects underneath.

Season with salt and cumin. You want the stew fragrant with a hint of warm cumin, but not taco meat aggressively cuminy. Add enough so that it is detectable, but is an undertone in the medley of flavors. The real taste sensation should be the deep and beefy flavor of the meat.

Serve with a good crusty bread, or with boiled potatoes, or with Caribbean rice and peas. A side salad, and you're done.

This will make a big batch of ropa vieva, and is probably more than your family can handle in a serving. It's great for leftovers, but also freezes very well, and is a perfect easy answer to a rushed weeknight meal.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)