Ropa vieja is one of the Godfather’s favorite “comfort foods”. When his mother or grandmother would make extra on a day he was home, he would occasionally bring it back to the dorms celebrating that we had a few meals where we weren’t relying on good old Chartwell’s (the cafeteria management company), dining out, or whatever we could concoct in a microwave. We would eat it with leftover rice (if he brought that too), with salad, or on bread as a sandwich. It’s really quite a versatile main dish and the leftovers just get better as the flavors have time to blend.
Growing up in South Florida, we assumed the blend of cuisines familiar to us were also familiar and easily found in the rest of the country. We were wrong (sheltered!). When we moved out of the area, we realized we (meaning me) would have to make some foods we used to enjoy with family or at a local restaurant. Cuban food was something I wasn’t really exposed to very much until college, so I had a lot to learn to replicate childhood recipes for my sweetheart. Thankfully, my mother-in-law tried to provide me with instructions and let me watch her in the kitchen. She makes her ropa vieja on the stove top or in the pressure cooker. I wanted to be able to make this on weekdays though and I haven’t figured out my pressure cooker 100% – we’re acquaintances rather than friends – so I decided to improvise and use my crock pot… successfully!
This is now the only way I’ve made ropa vieja for years because it’s SO EASY. I prep everything the evening before or in the morning, turn the crock pot on low and come back to a house that smells FANTASTIC and dinner is pretty much ready to go.
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)
- 2 1/2 – 3 lb flank steak
- 1 bottle sofrito (we find the Goya brand at the commissary)
- 1 bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 onion, diced (I had less on hand so added a second bell pepper instead)
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, wait about 30 seconds, then add the onion and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes until onion is slightly translucent and the pepper is softened.
- Slide the contents of the saute pan into your slow cooker and set the meat on top.
- Open the jar of sofrito, pour over the meat, ensuring it’s well coated and then cover and store in the refrigerator overnight before cooking or cook immediately.
- To cook, set your crockpot on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 until the meat is cooked through and shreds easily with a fork. Serve with rice and salad, salad only, or put on baguette bread for sandwiches. Serves 6 – our family of two gets about 3 meals from a 2 1/2 lb flank steak.