December 4, 2018
This wonderful slow-cooked beef stew is the national dish of Cuba, and also enjoyed in many other Central American countries. It is a great way to cook a cheaper cut of beef, and works perfectly with brisket. The name comes from the fact that when ready the beef cuts up into long strands (like pulled beef), resembling a pile of old rags (ropa vieja translates as old clothes), and the slow cooking process results in a dish packed full of flavour and colour. This is a perfect dish for an informal dinner party, particularly if it involves a buffet, and it can be made well in advance then reheated.
1Pat the beef dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy oven proof casserole, and brown the beef joint thoroughly all over. Then lift the meat out of the pan (keep the drippings and any little burnt bits, they will improve the flavour of the dish).
2Add the sliced vegetables to the pot and saute until beginning to caramelise, then add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping all the tasty bits up.
3Now add the tinned tomatoes, tomato powder, the bay leaves and the stock, and simmer for five minutes. Return the meat to the pot along with the carrot and celery, cover the pan and simmer on a very low heat for 4 hours, by which time the beef should come apart with a fork.
4Discard the carrot, celery and bay leaves. Lift out the beef and shred with a fork, and in the meantime add the olives and capers to the pot, then simmer and thicken the sauce, 30 minutes or so. Return the shredded meat to the pan, stir in a good handful of chopped fresh parsley, and serve.