Dec 30, 2010

Ropa Vieja

GUEST BLOGGER: Charlotte (The original recipe comes from Cooking Light [January 2008]; Charlotte's comments are in italics)

This Cuban stew is made by braising beef until it can be shredded--thus the name (translated as "old clothes"). Serve with tortillas and pass the hot sauce on the side for those who like it fiery (Cholula goes perfectly with this dish!!!). Because the meat is shredded, it's also suitable for tacos and burritos.

I enjoy it over Cal Rose rice (a short grain rice available at most grocery stores) and black beans, topped with tomatoes, avocados, and chopped cilantro. Hold the cheese and sour cream. Although we tend to put cheese and sour cream on all Hispanic food, this tastes much better without.

I usually double the recipe then divide and freeze the leftovers. When I double the recipe, I don’t double the peppers and onions because the amount called for can be overwhelming for the dish. When I make a single recipe I double the spices, and when I make a double recipe I quadruple the spices (just my preference).

Cooking spray
2 (1-pound) top sirloin steaks, trimmed (or flank steak or something similar)
3 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion
2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
4 garlic cloves, minced
(I chop everything the night before and toss it in a large bowl)
6 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives (I use Spanish olives, pimento and all, and like to add more.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large Dutch oven (I use a heavy pot.) over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 steak to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining steak.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olives and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Add steaks; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 1/2 hours or until steaks are very tender. Discard bay leaves. (Make sure the liquid is simmering and not boiling during the 1 ½ hours. This gives you a clear broth rather than a cloudy broth – it has to do with the fat in the dish breaking down or something.)

Remove steaks from pan; shred with two forks. Stir shredded beef and cilantro into pan. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)

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