Ropa Vieja, a very simple dish of beef in a tomato wine sauce, is one of my all time favorite dishes. Indeed, it’s a favorite of several members of my family, my sister asks me to make it every time she visits. I don’t quite understand how so few ingredients – the only seasoning on this dish is salt and bay leaves – can have such an amazing result, but it does. Fortunately for me, ropa vieja was one of the first dishes I discovered when I first started cooking, so I’ve been able to enjoy it for almost two decades. I used to serve it over white rice, but I actually prefer it with sourdough bread, though French bread is good too. The one problem this dish has is that it’s really hard to avoid eating the meat as you shred it.
- 3lb to 4lb chuck roast
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 15oz can tomato sauce
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 bay leaves
Sprinkle salt on all sides of the roast. Heat a very thin layer of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the roast and brown on all sides. Add one cup of water, turn down the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours or until cooked through. Turn off the heat and let cool down in the broth, covered.
Once the beef is cool enough to handle, shred the whole roast by hand, discarding hard pieces of fat. Mix the broth from the pot with the beef and set aside.
Wipe clean the pot you used and add another thin layer of oil. Heat over medium heat and then add the onions. Cook until soft, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for five more minutes. Mix in the beef, tomato sauce, red wine and bay leaves. Season with salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.