Two things I am all about: Using my slow cooker and trying other culture’s cuisine. I’m checking both of those off with this recipe.
I can’t remember the first time I came across ropa vieja, but when I saw it I knew I wanted to give it a try. Now, I don’t eat beef but that is what this Cuban stew is typically made with. I’ve included instructions for the meat version but if you want to give a vegetarian version a go, then stick with the original recipe.
If you’re Ron Burgundy and don’t speak Spanish, ropa vieja means “old clothes” in Spanish. Ropa vieja is also the national dish of Cuba. It’s a stew with meat and vegetables like bell peppers and the finished product kind of looks like a pile of old cloth. Hence the name. Clever people those Cubans.
Also, fantastic cooks because this stew is really good. Typically the stew is simmered over a few hours on the stove, but I decided to let my slow cooker do the work because then I wouldn’t have to turn on my stove. Plus, it makes the whole house smell delicious while it simmers away. Always a bonus of cooking things low and slow.
Ok, enough chit chat let’s get to some ropa vieja!
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
- 2 cans jackfruit OR 2 lbs of flank steak for non-vegetarian version
- 1 pkg of frozen bell peppers and onions OR 1 green and 1 red bell pepper sliced into strips and 1 cup onion, diced
- 11 cloves of garlic (yes, 11 whole cloves)
- 4 tsp capers + 2 tsp caper juice (weird)
- 1 14 oz can petite diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 cup salsa, your favorite brand or homemade
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tsp Mexican oregano OR regular oregano
- 2 tsp liquid smoke, only if using jackfruit
- 1 tsp taco seasoning, only if using jackfruit
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3 cups water or veggie/chicken broth
- 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- Heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat. If you’re using flank steak, sear both sides (about 2 minutes per side) and then place in the bottom of your slow cooker. If you’re using jackfruit, shred it and then add it to the skillet with the liquid smoke and taco seasoning. Cook until it starts to brown and add to the bottom of your slow cooker.
- Lower the heat to medium high and add the bell peppers and onions and saute for about 5 minutes until soft and starting to brown a little on the edges. Add to the slow cooker.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker except the water or broth. Once you have everything in the slow cooker, add 3 cups of broth or water.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Towards the end, shred the steak with two forks, stir everything and cook for another 15 minutes. Stir in the cilantro at the very end and serve over rice or with some plantain chips. I can also vouch for adding a dollop of guacamole…. 🙂