Ropa Vieja is a classic Cuban beef dish. Literally translated, it means "old clothes". That doesn't sound very appetizing, does it? Well, I promise it's a wonderful dish. Some say it's called that because the shredded meat resembles tattered/shredded clothes. I've also read a story describing a peasant who didn't have enough food to feed his guests, so he magically transformed old clothes into a delicious, hearty meal with his love and good intentions.
Anyway, whatever the origin of the name, it's delicious and easy to make in the slow cooker.
Some recipes will tell you that you have to cook the meat once, then let it cool, shred it, then cook it AGAIN with the sauce. I prefer my slow cooker method to save time and dirty dishes!
This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo/primal, and suitable for the 21-Day Sugar Detox or Whole30. This is also a great recipe to make in a big batch and then freeze into portions that will taste great as-is, but I also enjoy reheating it with fresh peppers, onions, and/or tomatoes to improve the texture, especially if I'm eating it alone.
Easy Slow Cooker Cuban Ropa Vieja
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 hours
- 2-4 lbs grass-fed beef (chuck roast, brisket, or flank steak)
- 2 bell peppers (any color you like)
- 1 onion (yellow or white)
- one 26.46 oz box Pomi chopped tomatoes
- 1/4-1/2 head garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 2-4 bay leaves
- 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- unrefined salt
- black pepper
- Coarsely chop the peppers and onion and press or mince the garlic.
- Add all of the ingredients (except the beef) to the slow cooker and gently stir to combine.
- Place beef on top.
- Cook on low for approximately 8-10 hours.
- The meat is done when it is easily shredded with a fork. Leave meat in the slow cooker and carefully shred it (don't splash yourself or your walls!) and mix with the sauce. Remove bay leaves and discard.
- Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
- It can be eaten alone as a hearty stew or served with a number of sides including cauliflower rice, white rice, plantains (either sweet platanos maduros or savory tostones), or even sweet potatos or beets. Enjoy!
Recommended Tools and Ingredients
These items are available from my affiliate partner Amazon. They are the exact items that I use, trust, and love in my own kitchen!