Ropa Vieja
This Ropa Vieja Recipe is extremely juicy, tender, bursting with rich, complex flavors and so easy made in the slow cooker! It’s made with tender, juicy beef, bell peppers, onions and Spanish olives slow cooked in aromatic crushed tomatoes and seasonings for mouthwatering flavor fireworks. This intensely juicy, perfectly seasoned beef can be served with rice and beans to soak up the sensational sauce or I’ve included TONS of unconventional serving ideas. This Cuban Ropa Vieja makes the easiest dinner, holiday or party food/Game Day food, and also is make ahead and freezer friendly. You don’t want to miss this Ropa Vieja recipe!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 servings 20minutes
Cook Time
10hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8 servings 20minutes
Cook Time
10hours
Ropa Vieja
Ingredients
  • 3lbs. chuck roast(may sub flank steak – see notes)
  • 2tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 red onionsliced ¼-inch thick
  • 128 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1cup low sodium beef broth
  • 2tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1tablespoon beef bouillon or better than bouillon
  • 1TBS EACH dried oregano, ground cumin
  • 1tsp EACH smoked paprika, ground coriander, all spice
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 6cloves garlicminced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 red bell peppersliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 green bell peppersliced ¼-inch thick
ADD LATER
  • 3/4cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olivesdrained and halved
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Using tongs, sear meat on all sides until browned and transfer to a 6 qt. (or larger) slow cooker.
  2. Add sliced onions to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat for 5 m minutes; set aside (don’t add to crockpot yet).
  3. Add crushed tomatoes through bay leaf to the crockpot and stir to combine, flipping the roast over to coat. Top beef with red onions and bell peppers.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours OR until roast is super tender and easily sheds with a fork.
  5. Once tender, shred roast and discard excess fat. Stir in the olives and let rest 15-30 minutes to absorb some of the juices. Taste and season with additional salt and/or ground chipotle chili pepper. Serve with rice and beans or see the post for TONS of serving ideas.
Recipe Notes

Can I  use Flank Steak?

Cuban Ropa Vieja is traditionally made with flank steak which dates back hundreds of years because it was the most economical cut of beef.  Flank steak, however, is tough, low in fat and less flavorful with long, shreddy fibers so it is not best for slow cooking.  In this modern era, I recommend chuck roast for its superior tenderness and richness.  Of course, you can still use flank steak for truly authentic Ropa Vieja but it will not be as tender or flavorful.  If you use flank steak, you will still want to sear it before adding to the slow cooker.

MAKE AHEAD 

  • Cook beef until tender and shred.
  • Remove ceramic insert from slow cooker and let cool to room temperature (for food safety and because it can crack if placed directly in the refrigerator).
  • Refrigerate the beef in the juices up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to heat, skim off all the hardened fat.
  • Cook on LOW in the slow cooker for 2 hours or until warmed through.

LEFTOVERS 

  • Storage:  Leftover Ropa Vieja should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored correctly, cooked beef will keep fresh for up to 5 days.
  • Crockpot: reheat on low for 2 hours or until warmed through.
  • Stove: transfer to a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.
  • Microwave: transfer smaller servings of beef to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.  Microwave for 60 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.

HOW TO FREEZE

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja freezes well aside from the bell peppers.  The bell peppers will turn a little mushy but I don’t think they’re too noticeable when combined with the beef.  If you’re worried about the texture, however, you can pick them out before freezing.

  1. Let beef cool completely.
  2. Transfer beef to an air-tight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag.
  3. Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  4. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to eat, defrost beef in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Reheat in the slow cooker, microwave or stove per instructions