Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)
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Cuban Shredded beef or ropa vieja made in the slow cooker! We sear the meat and then braise it for hours with onions, garlic, and spices until the meat is just falling apart tender. Serve it up with black beans and rice!
Okay, that’s a little too much fun to say. And a lot fancier sounding than the amount of energy actually required to make this dish. Because let’s face it, we’re talking a quick sear on the meat and into the slow cooker it goes and out comes braised, cuban shredded beef that is falling apart tender and delicious with rice, on tacos, and even with eggs and black beans for breakfast. Or maybe mixed in with migas. Holy cow, the possibilities are endless.
YUM. YES. PLEASE.
So what is Cuban shredded beef (Ropa Vieja)?
It’s the most amazing Cuban shredded beef of your life. Slow cooked and shredded beef stew-ish type dish that you didn’t even know you were missing. And if you’re thinking this is going to be a ton of work, it’s as simple as:
How to make Cuban shredded beef:
- Season a beef chuck with salt and pepper and add hide garlic cloves in the thickness of the meat.
- SEAR the meat. This is EVERYTHING. When you sear the outer surface of a piece of meat in a hot pan with a little bit of oil it forms a crust on the outside which then allows for crazy amounts of flavor to develop and helps get the meat extra tender.
- Toss in the onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomato sauce, and seasonings into the slow cooker. Add the seared beef and allow to braise for 6-8 hours on the low setting.
That’s it. It’s seriously the easiest dinner ever and you can start it right before you go to work and have it ready and waiting for you when you get home. Perfect, tender, and a crowd pleaser. And seriously, the comfort factor — it’s to a whole new level. I serve it on a bed of cilantro lime rice with a side of cuban-style black beans. And obvi, in the almost 3 years we’ve been together now, you know I need tons of chopped cilantro and lime wedges to serve on the side.
That’s how we do. ✌️
This crockpot braised cuban shredded beef is everything. Warm, cozy, comforting, meaty, and saucy. The tomato sauce seasoned with oregano, cumin, and garlic adds such a nice balanced warmth to the dish. Plus theres the whole thing about not having to turn on the oven and just a quick 10 minutes of stovetop time and still having comfort food that’s perfect for rainy Sundays and chilly autumn nights alike. Cuban shredded beef is my jam.
Also, whatever you do, don’t forget the black beans, cilantro, and lime juice. It’s non-negotiable! This is really my go-to shredded beef recipe for when I want to make comfort food on Monday with a bowl of rice, but then again on Tuesday for #tacotuesday topped with all the fixings and a little Mexican street corn salad action on the side. And when I feel guilty for eating all the carbs with a big baked sweet potato or mashed potatoes on Wednesday and then because brinner is a real thing,
maybe with a quick scrambled egg, crushed tortilla chips, Monterey jack cheese topped with a little Cuban shredded beef for Thursday — because you gotta celebrate that it’s almost the weekend. And then on Friday over a big plate of nachos because it IS the end of the workweek.
Yummy yummy in my tummy.
sear the meat:
- 6 whole cloves garlic
- 2-2 1/2 lbs. beef chuck roast or flank steak
- 1 tablespoon oil
for ropa vieja:
- 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons EACH dried oregano AND salt
- 1 tablespoon EACH ground cumin AND white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro + more for serving
- white rice + cuban-style black beans
- SEARING THE MEAT: Take the beef chuck roast and using a small paring knife, make 3 small 'x' marks into the meat. Take 3 cloves of garlic and insert them into the 3 'x' marks so that the clove is completely inserted into the thickness of roast. Season both sides of the meat with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the beef in one piece and fry on each side for 5 minutes, turning only when the exterior is browned. This will splatter a bit but don't cover the pan as the meat will end up steaming rather than searing.
- FOR THE ROPA VIEJA: Chop the remaining 3 cloves of garlic into thin slices and add to the slow cooker along with all the remaining ropa vieja ingredients. I used a 6-quart slow cooker but a 3-quart slow cooker will work too. Cover and let cook on the low setting for 7-8 hours. When the beef falls apart easily when pulled with two forks, it's done. Shred the beef with the forks and give it a stir. Taste for seasonings, season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
- TO SERVE: Serve over a bed of rice with cuban-style black beans on the side topped with additional cilantro and a few lime wedges. You can also use the shredded beef for burritos, breakfast quesadillas, or tacos! The possibilities are endless!
- Leftover beef can be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
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