Ropa Vieja is a traditional Cuban dish that is known for its flavorful and tender shredded beef. The name “ropa vieja” translates to “old clothes” in English, referring to the shredded appearance of the beef that resembles torn or frayed fabric. It is considered one of the national dishes of Cuba and is also popular in other Latin American countries.

Ropa Vieja


  • 2 pounds flank steak or skirt steak
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish


  1. Season the flank steak or skirt steak with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil in a big skillet or Dutch oven. Add the steak, then sear it thoroughly. Take the steak out of the skillet and set it aside.
  3. In the same skillet, add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Sauté the vegetables until they are softened and lightly browned.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, beef broth, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf to the skillet. Stir to combine.
  5. Return the steak to the skillet, nestling it into the sauce and vegetables. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until the beef is tender and easily shreds apart.
  6. Take the steak out of the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks or your hands.
  7. Meanwhile, continue to simmer the sauce and vegetables uncovered to thicken it.
  8. Return the shredded beef to the skillet and stir it into the sauce. Cook for an additional 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  9. If necessary, add more salt and pepper after tasting.
  10. Serve the Ropa Vieja over white rice and garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.

Note: You can also prepare this recipe in a slow cooker. Simply follow steps 1 to 4, then transfer everything to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours until the beef is tender. Shred the meat and return it to the slow cooker for an additional 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy your homemade Ropa Vieja!

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