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Old Clothes (Ropa Vieja)

For the meat:

  • 1 ½ – 2 lbs. flank steak, or leftover roast (any cut you’d use for pot roast)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Place ingredients in a pot. Add water to just cover. Simmer over very low heat for 1 1/2-2 hours, until meat falls apart and shreds easily–test by pulling a chunk of meat with a fork. If it pulls off easily, it’s ready. Put the meat on a platter to cool, saving the broth aside.

For the sauce:

  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 32 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbs. olive oil


Pour the oil into a 3 or 4-quart Dutch oven. Heat over a low flame until the oil releases its fragrance. Add the onions and garlic, and saute until soft. Add the bell peppers, continuing to saute until the peppers lose some of their crispness. Add the tomatoes. Cook for ten minutes.

Shred the cooled beef and add it to the tomato mixture. Add enough of the reserved broth to make a sauce that is slightly thicker than soup, but not quite a stew. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes. Serve over plain rice.

To cook the ropa vieja, follow the instructions for the meat, slicing the onion into strips rather than dicing it, and adding the bell pepper, also sliced into strips. Add one packet of powdered beef bouillon (not the cube sort). When the meat is tender, shred it directly in the pot, using two forks. Continue cooking until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Serve.

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