Friday, October 7, 2011

Ropa Vieja

I've been cooking a lot of crock pot recipes lately because they tend to have a very high taste to effort ratio (that's how Matt categorizes food preparation), and with a 6 1/2 month old crawling around (yes, I said crawling!), recipes with minimal effort are ideal!  Plus you have the added bonus of smelling it all day, which makes me very excited to eat it when dinner comes around.  Luckily Jeremy & Lindsay gave me an awesome crock pot cookbook for Christmas last year and I've been making very good use of it over the past 6 months.  The book is Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'Dea and pretty much everything I've made from it has been terrific.

Last night's meal, Ropa Vieja, was no exception!  Ropa Vieja is Spanish for "old clothes," which may not sound very appetizing but it is!  The smell and the flavor reminded me of something and it took me a little while to figure out what - it reminds me a little of barbacoa from Chipotle, which makes me think this would also be wonderful in burritos.

This is in the crock pot after a few hours of cooking.  (I guess
I should have taken the lid off for the photo so it would
have come out a little more clear.)
And here is the finished product, with the meat and veggies
all mixed together like old clothes in the wash!
Ropa Vieja

  • 1 Tbsp (tablespoon) ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (teaspoon) smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds beef or pork stew meat or roast (get what's on sale: I used beef chuck shoulder roast)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 yellow apples, peeled and grated (I'm not sure why it calls for yellow apples specifically; I used empire apples I had and it worked out great)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Use a 6-quart slow cooker.  Combine the cumin, paprika, salt, and peppers in a bowl.  Rub the spice mixture all over the piece (or pieces) or meat you are using.  Put the meat into the stoneware.  Dump any extra spice left in the bowl on top.  Add the vegetables, garlic, cilantro, grated apples, chicken broth, and vinegar.  Cover and cook on low for 10 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork - the meat and vegetables should be shredded and fully intertwined.  The longer and slower you cook this, the better.  Serve over brown or white rice, with a ladle full of broth.

*I'll add one more note about the meat:  The roast I used had a layer of fat on the top and bottom and I figured it would melt during cooking.  It didn't and I ended up pulling out a few fairly large ribbons of fat before I served this.  It might be worth attempting to cut the fat off ahead of time if it's a thick layer like it was on mine.

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