This mild dish is comforting to the max with its thin broth seasoned by tomatoes, green pepper and spices. It's called ropa vieja (old clothes) because the beef is simmered to tender perfection and then shredded, making it look like rags. We're calling our version La Nueva Ropa Vieja (New Old Clothes), and although it's not the original dish of Cuban grandmothers, it comes pretty close.
You can freeze the leftovers.
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
½ cup water
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1 large onion (for about 1 cup slices)
2 pounds skirt or flank steak (see note)
1 red bell pepper (for about 1 cup pieces)
1 green bell pepper (for about 1 cup pieces)
1 (14 ½ -ounce) can diced tomatoes, seasoned with garlic and olive oil (see note)
2 cups cooked rice, for serving
Put the tomato sauce, water, bay leaves, vinegar, garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper into the slow-cooker. Stir to combine. Peel the onion, and cut it into quarters. Thinly slice the onion quarters, and add them to the cooker. Place the beef over the onions, and spoon some of the liquid over the meat. (If you are using skirt steak or flank steak, there will be several thin pieces, and they will overlap in the pot.)
Rinse the bell peppers, and discard the seeds and membranes. Cut the peppers into quarters, then thinly slice them and add the pieces to the pot. Pour the diced tomatoes with their juice evenly on top. Cover the pot and cook on low until the meat is so tender that it practically falls apart, about 8 hours if using skirt or flank steak or 10 hours if using sirloin or chuck.
About 20 minutes before serving, cook the rice.
Before serving, remove the beef and vegetables from the slow-cooker to a large serving bowl. Use two forks to pull the beef into shreds. There should be some cooking juices in the bowl; if not, add about 1/2 cup juices. Stir to mix the beef and vegetables. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve all but 2 cups of the beef- vegetable mixture over a bed of hot rice.
Serves 4 generously, with about 5 cups (total) leftover beef mixture and broth.
Note: Sirloin steak or chuck roast also can be used. The exact seasoning for the diced tomatoes doesn't matter as long as you choose a type that includes garlic. Petite diced tomatoes and no-salt-added varieties also work.
To store the leftovers: Refrigerate the remaining 2 cups of the beef mixture in a large, covered storage container. Pour all of the cooking juices (just over 3 cups) into a separate container and refrigerate overnight to let fat rise to the top. Discard the fat from the broth, and then add the remaining broth to the beef-vegetable mixture. Freeze for up to 1 month (or the mixture may be refrigerated for up to 3 days). Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or use a microwave oven according to the manufacturer's defrosting instructions.
from Desperation Dinners
Laurie's notes: I subbed Produce Box garlic, tomatoes and peppers. The peppers were frozen whole; the tomatoes were diced and sauteed with garlic and olive oil, back in August, then frozen. Cuban food is typically mild and sweet. We like spicy food, so I added a diced Poblano and six diced Serrano peppers (also frozen back in August.)