Ropa Vieja from THE PERFECT MIX Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set

badboysadfront200THE PERFECT MIX will be available in mid-February, but you can also pre-order the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Contemporary Romance Boxed set which contains my book as well as six other fabulous novels by my friends Sophia Knightly, Tawny Weber, Nina Bruhns, Susan Hatler, Virna DePaul, and Kristin Miller!

Why am I mentioning THE PERFECT MIX and the awesome Lucky 7 Bad Boys? Well, in my story the heroine, Bianca, is a chef. Perfect since I love to cook as you know. Rey, the sexy bad boy, is a contractor who is renovating a restaurant for Bianca and her friends. It’s going to be a Cuban restaurant and one of the dishes on the menu is Ropa Vieja, a shredded beef in tomato sauce dish.

Now a word of warning before I begin this recipe. First, if you go into a Cuban restaurant and they don’t have some variation on this dish – RUN! This is a classic dish and I’ve only gone to one place that didn’t have it. Of course, that place also didn’t have any plantains on the menu and the bartender didn’t know how to make a mojito. It turned out to be a big mistake.

Also, this dish takes time, but it does triple duty as you’ll see from the recipe.

Fun Fact: Ropa vieja means “old clothes” in Spanish. When you think about old clothes being thread-bare and shredded, it kind of makes sense since this is a shredded beef dish.

Ingredients

Preparing the beef for shredding

2 lbs lean brisket (or flank steak) cut into quarters against the grain
2 coarsely chopped onion
2 celery stalks cut in half
2 large carrots – cut in quarters
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 bay leaves
black pepper to taste
Enough water to cover the meat and other ingredients in your pot

Boil the brisket until fork tender. Do not do a hard boil as it will cloud the water, but a soft rolling boil. When fork tender, take the meat out and let it cool. Take out the celery and carrots. Toss the celery *yuk I hate celery*, but save the carrots. They make a nice cold carrot salad.

Preparing the tomato sauce for the beef

1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes and one small can tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

Start by sauteing the red and green peppers in the olive oil until they begin to soften. Then add the onions and cook until translucent. Do not brown.

Add the garlic and cook it for just a little bit.

Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves and oregano. Simmer for at least half an hour.

While this is simmering, shred the beef. Brisket and/or flank steak have a very pronounced grain and you can just pull and it will come apart into shreds. Keep them small. No longer than about 2 inches and not very thick either. You want the meat to absorb some of the tomato goodness.

When the beef is shredded, add it to the cooked tomato sauce and then simmer this again for about an hour or so to allow the tomato and beef to marry.

That’s it! I usually serve this dish over white rice with a side of ripe plantains.

Now why did I say this dish does triple duty?

Well, you’ve got that beef broth for starter. In my house I reduce it, add caramelized onions and make onion soup.

Also, I always make extra beef so that I can make another Cuban dish, vaca frita (fried cow).

I hope you’ll try this out one day!

Thanks to Marc Averette for releasing his ropa vieja photo into the public domain.

ropavieja

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