Slow cooking Ropa Vieja, a flavorful shredded beef and vegetable stew, yields a delicious version of the traditional Cuban recipe. It’s the perfect comfort food when served with rice or warm tortillas.
⏲️ Time needed
You’ll need about 10 minutes prep time to chop your vegetables and the meat if needed. Cooking time will be about 6 hours, depending on your slow cooker.
- tomato sauce
- bay leaves
- apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- beef chuck roast
- green bell pepper
- diced tomatoes
- Fresh cilantro
Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until the meat begins to fall apart (about 6 hours). Be mindful of how hot your slow cooker cooks since they all heat differently. Larger volume slow cookers will cook the same amount of food much faster than a smaller volume slow cooker.
Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired and serve over Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice.
❓ What does Ropa Vieja mean?
In English, Ropa Vieja translates to “old clothes.”
🥩 Why is it called Ropa Vieja?
The original Ropa Vieja recipe came from Spain, where legend has it that a starving old man was so desperate that he boiled his clothes to feed his family. The clothes miraculously turned into a rich meat and vegetable stew.
🇨🇺 Is this an authentic Ropa Vieja recipe?
Like most of my ethnic recipes, this has been adapted for a more tender meat and flavor preferences. Traditionally Ropa Vieja is made with flank steak, but chuck roast is always my preference for any kind of beef stew where I want the beef to shred.
🍚 What should I serve with Ropa Vieja?
Traditionally Ropa Vieja is served with Cuban black beans or rice, but it can also be eaten as a sandwich with a bun or as a stew served with warm tortillas. Ropa Vieja is delicious over Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice (pictured), avocado slices, or a green salad with jalapeno or southwestern-style Ranch Dressing.
If you are restricting carbs, serving it over a small portion of mashed cauliflower is a good choice (I like to improve frozen mashed cauliflower with extra butter, some heavy cream, and plenty of garlic salt).
🌶️ How can I make it spicier?
If your family is like mine and thinks that recipes aren’t spicy enough unless they make you sweat, then try adding a 4 oz. can of drained green chilies or chopped fresh jalapeno pepper to the ingredients. Serve with a bit of sour cream to counter the heat.
♨️ Can I make Ropa Vieja in the Instant Pot?
I have not made Ropa Vieja in the IP, but it is similar to other beef stews and should be easy to convert if you keep the principles of pressure cooking in mind.
For Ropa Vieja in the Instant Pot, I would follow this procedure:
- Increase the water to 1 cup (required to bring the IP to pressure) and combine all the ingredients in the inner pot.
- Cook on manual pressure (high if you have the option) for 25 minutes.
- NPR for 15 minutes, then release pressure and open lid.
- If you want to thicken the juices, make a slurry of 2 tablespoons of cool water and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and add it to the inner pot. Turn on the Sauté function and heat to boiling, stirring gently but constantly, for just long enough to thicken. Immediately turn off the IP and remove the inner pot.
- Serve as indicated above.
If you prefer a sweeter version of Ropa Vieja, use one ripe red bell pepper in place of the green bell pepper.
For a richer flavor, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste with the other ingredients.
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1.5 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-2” cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional for garnish)
- Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low until the meat begins to fall apart (about 6 hours). Be mindful of how hot your slow cooker cooks since they all heat differently. Larger volume slow cookers will cook the same amount of food much faster than a smaller volume slow cooker.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired and serve.
For richer flavor, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste.
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