Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Cuban Beef

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Get cozy with a big batch of this traditional Cuban beef stew, ropa vieja, made in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, depending on how much time you have.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Cuban Beef

Have you tried ropa vieja? Don’t worry about the fact that the name is Spanish for “old clothes”–this is supremely delicious comfort food, with nothing old or ragged about it. To make this pressure cooker ropa vieja, beef is quickly seared, then cooked until tender in an addictive sauce made with Pomì tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, smoked paprika, and other spices. Next, capers, raisins, and pimiento peppers are added for pops of color, sweetness, and tart, briny flavor. The result is a dish so soothing and satisfying that Ben and I aren’t even close to being tired of it, despite having eaten three giant batches over the past two weeks.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Cuban Beef

My recipe below uses a pressure cooker. No pressure cooker? Don’t fret. This ropa vieja is just as delicious made in a slow cooker. I was surprised to find the two versions indistinguishable in taste and texture, so it’s really just a question of how much time you have and which appliance you want to use.

I used Pomì Organic Strained Tomatoes for this recipe. They’re similar to crushed tomatoes and provide all the great umami-packed flavor of fresh tomatoes grown in the Italian sunshine. (By the way, I also tested this recipe with Pomìí’s chopped tomatoes and they worked great, too!) I love that they’re organic and non-GMO certified. If you’re interested in more recipes using Pomì tomatoes, you can download their free e-cookbook right here.


Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Cuban Beef

This pressure cooker ropa vieja is a satisfying meal on its own or atop a bed of rice (white, yellow, or cauliflower!), but it’s even more exciting with a few extra trimmings. Here I served it with tostones (fried green plantains) and guacamole. Last week I made maduros (fried sweet plantains) to go with the previous batch of ropa vieja, but this week I could only find green plantains at the market so I had to go with tostones. I couldn’t even pick a favorite plantain side because I love both of them so much.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Cuban Beef

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Cuban Beef
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Get cozy with a big batch of this traditional Cuban beef stew, ropa vieja, made in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, depending on how much time you have.
Author:
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup avocado oil or ghee
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds sirloin tip roast, cut into 6 large chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, deseeded, and sliced into thin strips
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons bittersweet smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 1 (26.46-ounce) box Pomí Organic Strained Tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup chopped jarred pimiento peppers, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Put the avocado oil in the Instant Pot and push “Sauté”, then push “Adjust” to increase the heat to “More”. When the ghee is hot, add the beef and brown for ten minutes, turning the pieces over halfway through. Use tongs to transfer the beef to a plate.
  2. Add the onion and peppers to the pot and sauté, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until softened somewhat and reduced in volume. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and spices and cook for about a minute. Pour in the wine and let it bubble away for 2-3 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone.
  3. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and press “Keep Warm/Cancel”. Return the beef to the pot along with any juices on the plate, and stir to combine. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the valve is turned to “Sealing”. Push “Manual” and use the plus button to increase the time to 40 minutes. Cooking will begin automatically.
  4. When the time is up, push “Keep Warm/Cancel” and let the pressure release naturally (this takes 15-20 minutes; a manual pressure release can negatively impact the texture of the meat).
  5. Carefully remove the lid, transfer the meat to a plate, and shred it with two forks. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Return the meat to the pot along with the capers, pimientos, raisins, and sherry vinegar, and stir. Push “Sauté” and cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve hot alongside white or yellow rice, guacamole, and tostones* or fried sweet plantains.
Notes
To make this recipe in a slow cooker, complete steps 1-2 stovetop in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once the beef is done browning, you can place it directly in your slow cooker along with the bay leaves. Once the wine has bubbled away, turn off the heat, stir in the tomatoes, and pour the mixture on top of the meat in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3½ to 4 hours, or until the meat falls apart easily. Transfer the meat to a plate and shred it with two forks. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Return the meat to the slow cooker, add the capers, pimientos, raisins, and sherry vinegar, and stir. Continue to cook on high, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.

 

Becky Winkler

Becky Winkler

Becky Winkler is an enthusiastic eater who shares paleo and gluten-free recipes on her blog, A Calculated Whisk. She enjoys chopping chocolate, salting dessert, searing short ribs, and taking pictures. In her other life, she's a grad student in Boston.

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