Traditional Cuban Ropa Vieja

After a long week of quick dinners and leftovers, I wanted to take my time and enjoy cooking a nice meal on this lovely Friday evening. Since my mom is visiting this weekend, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try making ropa vieja for the first time. I was going to use my crock pot, but a pressure cooker is the best way to go for ropa vieja, so my mom brought hers from home. Of course, since this is my first time, she showed me how to use it. It’s definitely something you need to be careful with – take your time.

This meal is great for entertaining or just for two, but it’s definitely a treat. Ropa vieja is my favorite Cuban dish that my mom and grandmother have been making since I was a baby. I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to try, but I’m glad I finally did. It’s so flavorful with the garlic, tomatoes and peppers, and adding the plantains on the side makes for a sweet and salty complex. You’ve got to try this recipe this weekend!


Ingredients (serves 2):

Ropa Vieja:
1.5 lb flank steak
2 bell peppers (I used red and green), sliced
½ sweet onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
White wine to taste
Cumin to taste
6 oz tomato paste (use half)
8 oz tomato sauce
Cilantro, minced
Beef bouillon cube

Black beans:
Goya black beans
Cilantro, minced

Yellow Rice:
Bag of Vigo yellow rice (Instructions on bag)

1 plantain (very ripe!)

Pressure Cook Beef

1. Fill pressure cooker with water, just enough to cover the meat.

2. Place meat in water with a bouillon cube, slice of green pepper, and one garlic clove. Cover the cooker tightly and attach the pressure regulator.

3. Set to high heat and wait for regulator to start whistling. When this happens, begin your timer for thirty minutes. (Longer for bigger cuts of meat)

4. When finished, remove meat and place in a separate bowl. Shred and set aside. **Save the broth for a tasty addition to your ropa vieja, and freeze the rest to make beef soups or stews!


Ropa Vieja

1. Saute onions in EVOO at medium heat in a large saute pan. When translucent, add peppers, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook until tender, then add tomato paste and sauce. Make sure your heat is set to medium-low.

2. Add a splash of white wine and broth.

3. When vegetables are cooked, add meat, set burner to simmer, and cover.



1. Add EVOO to a small pot, then black beans and cilantro.

2. Cover the pot. These don’t require much attention, but I would wait until your rice is about done to begin heating.


Platanos (Plantains)

1. Cut ends off plantain. Create three thin slices down the plantain (evenly distributed).

2. Cut plantain into three pieces.

3. Set a medium pot of water to boil, then add plantain. Boil for 10-15 minutes, then remove.

4. Peel and add a little salt, pepper and EVOO.

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Traditional Cuban Ropa Vieja


  1. says

    This recipe would make a great contribution to the Global Recipe Project (a charity cookbook project for food aid organizations) – we would love a few Costa Rican recipes. :) I hope you’ll consider!

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