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Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

I always used to mock my grandmother - the way she spoke, the way she did things. She would laugh along but also let me know when I crossed the line. One time, I remember asking what she was cooking, and she responded, "ropa vieja" (old clothes).

I started laughing, thinking she was joking. Then I asked again, and she said, "I'm making shredded beef stew, but that's how we call it in Cuba." When I asked why, she said, "Probably because the meat gets stringy and frayed like old rags." I don't know if she made that up or if that's what Cubans actually tell non-Cubans.

This recipe yields 4 portions.


500 gr. of chuck meat (boiled and shredded, keep the water)

1 green bell pepper (chopped)

1 onion (chopped)

3 garlic cloves (chopped)

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of ground cumin

2 bay leaves

Oil for sautéing

Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Brown the meat in a pan with a bit of oil. Add the onions, garlic, pepper, bay leaves, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato paste and the boiling beef water. Let it simmer on low for 30 minutes.

  2. Serve with white steamed rice, "maduros" (fried ripe plantain), and salad.



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