Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes) Recipe

Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes)


  • 2.5 lb flank steak
  • A quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 large onion (chopped or sliced, your preference)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped or sliced, your preference)
  • 1 poblano pepper (chopped or sliced, your preference)
  • 8-10 oz of whole tomatoes, crush by hand
  • 1 TB cumin2 garlic cloved (minced)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 TB sofrito
  • Adobo and sazon (to taste)
  • salt/pepper

How to make Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes)

More pics of the entire process here.
When I made this and had my first taste, I actually talked outloud (to myself) and said, "Oh my God...this is so good, I could cry!"  And I don't talk to myself. Swearsies!!

Ropa Vieja is a traditional cuban meat stew. The term means "old clothes" and was given this name because the shredded flank steak resembles old, torn rags. You will definitely enjoy this.

Trim the flank of any extra fat. Cut against the grain into 2-inch strips. Cut strips in half again, so that you've ended up with about 6-8 squares of flank.

Drizzle some EVOO  in a deep skillet. I use a stainless, not teflon. Get it nice and hot over med-high and add the flank. Brown on both sides, remove and set aside to cool. You will add it back at a later time. Save all the juices!

Add the chopped onion and deglaze the pan with a tiny bit of stock. Cover and sweat the onions, then get them nice and brown.

Add the 2 cups of the stock. Add cumin, adobo & sazon. Add meat back in the pot, and bring to boil. Once boiling, turn to LOW then cover and simmer for 3 hours. 

After 3 hours is up, set meat aside to cool, and pour onion  stock into a bowl to use later.

Add more EVOO, and add the peppers and garlic and a bit of the stock to sweat out the peppers. season with pepper and salt.

Cover and let this cook for about 10 mins til peppers are soft. Make sure the garlic isnt burning.

Add crushed tomatoes. Add the onion stock we set aside earlier (adding water to equal about 3 cups). Bring to boil, then to LOW, covering again for about 15 mins.

The meat should be cool enough to shred by hand now. Do this, then add to pot.

Bring to boil again, then to LOW for 15-45 mins.

Serve over white rice with black beans, and platanos maduros.

Sooo satisfying!

Question from the Chef

“What's your favorite way to cook with flank steak?”

  • muttoneer
    muttoneer says

    This looks delicious. I love Cuban.

  • kimdec
    kimdec says

    It is sooo good! I think next time I will just HALF the flank in two and braise it, so that I get much longer strands of beef!

  • muttoneer
    muttoneer says

    What recipe do you use for your sofrito, out of curiosity?

  • kimdec
    kimdec says

    I use the GOYA jar of Sofrito..It's really worth it since you only use a couple TBs and this dish takes so long to braise. But if you want to make your own, here is a good one: Sofrito ¼ cup olive oil 1 minced garlic clove 1 medium chopped onion ½ green pepper ½ cup tomato sauce 1 tsp oregano ¼ cup water salt to taste 2 tsp vinegar Heat oil in skillet and add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper Cook until onions become soft then add remaining ingredients. Store in refrigerator

  • GunnarM
    GunnarM says

    Seal the flank steak in a plastic bag together with some smoked paprika powder, cumin, crushed black pepper, olive oil, crushed cloves of garlic and some red wine. Marinate for at least 2 hours. Put on a charcoal grill and grill until dark and spicy on the outside and nice and rare on the inside. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve with pitas, sallad, hoummus and cherry tomatoes. And of course a nice red wine...

  • MikeDrawback
    MikeDrawback says

    This recipe looks great, and I just checked out your blog and Its very good!

  • kimdec
    kimdec says

    Thanks MikeD! It IS great. It's one my mouth waters for, honestly!!

    ROKCO says

    I really love this recipe and want to make it for my family. I have a problem with two ingredients, adobo and sazon? Are there any substitutions for this ingredients because I can’t get them in my country.

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