Monday, January 9, 2012

Ropa Vieja by Tom

Ropa Vieja
(Shredded Beef in Cuban Creole Sauce)

Quite a few years ago Sarah and David gave me for Christmas the Dinosaur Bar B Que cookbook.  It has proven to be a very good cookbook, and I frequently make recipes from it.  This recipe I first made in January 2002 and we very much liked the taste and the appearance.  Tastes good; looks good.  What's not to like about that!

But as I was trying to decide what to make for the NFL playoff games, I discovered much to my chagrin that I had never posted this recipe on Barbara's blog.  So that became my mission.  Make this excellent tasting recipe for the halftime of the Steelers-Broncos game, and add another entry to the blog.  Fortunately my results were far superior to that of the Steelers.

Ropa Vieja: Shredded Beef in Cuban Creole Sauce
(Adapted from the Dinosaur Bar B Que Cookbook)

Serves 4-6

The Steak
1 flank steak (1 1/2 - 2#)
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 cups beef broth (I did not have this so I substituted one bottle of beer and about a cup of chicken stock)

The Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups barbeque sauce or 2-16 ounce cans of tomato sauce (I used ~1 cup of Dinosaur BBQ Slathering Sauce and 2 cups of a Colorado Hot & Spicy Barbeque sauce)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano

The Accoutrement
4-6 cups white rice (I used Texmati rice)
10 ounces fresh or frozen peas, cooked (Actually any green vegetable works.  I used baby lima beans.)
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the flank steak with salt and pepper, and brown each side for about 4 minutes each.

Next throw in the carrots, onions, bay leaves and garlic around the edges of the meat and let them saute for another 4-5 minutes to get a little carmelization.  Season everything with a little more salt and pepper.

Add the broth and bring to a simmer.  Then cover and put into the oven for about 2 hours so that the flank steak becomes fork tender for shredding.

After 2 hours in  the oven, take the flank steak out of the pan and place it on a large sheet of aluminum foil.  Save the juices in the cooking skillet as you will use them later.  Remember that the pan is hot, so use an oven mitt or hot pad to avoid burning yourself.

Wrap the meat tightly and let it sit for another 20 minutes or so.

Time to make the sauce while the meat is resting.  Dice the onion, green pepper and jalapeno pepper.

Saute the veggies with an added pinch of salt and pepper in heated olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft.   This will take about 8-10 minutes.  Then add the garlic and saute for an additional minute.

Once the vegetables are sauteed, add the barbeque sauce and the spices - cumin and oregano.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and keep it that way for at least 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (A word of warning.  Be sure to taste your concoction to make sure it does not become too salty.  Remember that the barbeque sauces will be bringing their own salt into the recipe.)

From the skillet removed from the oven, remove the vegetables and bay leaves.  Don't worry if there are a few "stray vegetables" in the liquid.  Boil it down until there is roughly one cup of liquid remaining.  This is intensifying the flavors in the cooking broth.

Meanwhile, shred the flank steak with two forks pulling against the meat along the grain.  This creates the shredded meat, or the "ropa" of the recipe's title.  Now add the shredded beef back into the reduced liquid mixture and stir it up well to get the meat to reabsorb most of the liquid from the skillet.

Now dump everything into the sauce and mix this up well.  Simmer just so that everything is heated through.
To roast a red pepper, just put it right on top of the cooking grid on a gas range.  Using tongs, turn the pepper frequently until you have  a good char on the outside and the pepper itself is feeling a little soft.  Then pop it into a paper lunch bag for about 10 - 15 minutes.  The skin should easily peel off, and it should be easy to slice to remove the seeds.  Slice into strips.

Make the rice per the cooking directions on the container.  Make the peas (or other green vegetable) as well per the cooking directions on the package.

Plate by spreading the rice down on the plate.  Cover that with a generous portion of the Ropa Vieja, and then top with the peas and red pepper strips in that order.  Makes for a colorful, and very tasty, meal.


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