We have said it BEFORE and we will say it again, Cuban Ropa Vieja is one of the pillars of Cuban cuisine. It is difficult to discuss traditional Cuban Recipes without mentioning Ropa Vieja. This shredded beef recipe is built on the foundation of sofrito, and the garlic makes the flavor sing. Ropa Vieja is a quintessential Cuban recipe.
It was even featured in the new HBO Max’s Father of the Bride. For those that haven’t seen it, Andy Garcia plays Guillermo the father, and Gloria Estefan plays Ingrid his wife and the mother of the bride. They are welcoming their eldest daughter back from law school and they are preparing a big Cuban meal to celebrate. You can just guess what they served right? In no surprise they went with Ropa Vieja with Arroz Blanco and Frijoles Negros.
But there is absolutely nothing in the Cuban Recipe Handbook that says you MUST slave away for hours to achieve success. Your Abuela may have loved to tell you how long it took her to make that Vaca Frita, but if you had offered her a way to shorten the process, she would have taken it in a second. Especially if you could promise her that the shortcut would not sacrifice flavor.
Another Ode to Instant Pot
The Instant Pot was sent to us from the kitchen fairies above, and we should all start making room in our storage cabinets to hold its wonder. The Instant Pot is a huge injection of flavor into your meal in record breaking time.
We used the Instant Pot to make Ropa Vieja and the results were finger licking perfection. If you do not have an Instant Pot (yes you should buy one), don’t worry you can do this with your slow cooker. We will answer this question and a few more in our Tips and Tricks Section:
Tips and Tricks for Making the Ropa Vieja Instant Pot
- If you do not have an Instant Pot- YOU CAN use a slow cooker to make the Ropa Vieja. The only difference is you would have to make your sofrito stove top and then dump it on top of your meat and really soak your beef in it before setting the slow cooker to do it’s thing.
- Sazon: We make our own Sazon, and that is what we use. It’s bottled. So for every packet of Goya we equate it to about a tablespoon of bottled Sazon. Use what you like to cook with! No one has ever gone wrong using the classic Goya packets!
- If you like to add a little Garlic Powder or extra cumin or oregano- go for it! Be warned Cumin carries a big punch best to go on the lighter side.
- We like to slice our peppers and onions thinly, so that there is symmetry with the beef. However you should slice or dice however you like.
- If you prefer to use Tomato Puree rather than Tomato Paste– or if you don’t have Tomato Paste- then use 1/4 cup- 1/2 of Tomato Puree rather than the paste and lessen how much Vino Seco you use to about 3/4 cup.
- The Instant Pot “natural release” just means you let the pot be until the steam slowly works it’s way out. However if you’re feeling hungry just move the seal to release and there’s almost no difference.
Instant Pot Cuban Ropa ViejaCourse: EntreeCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Easy
2- 2 1/2 pounds of Untrimmed Brisket or flank (try to buy great quality meat such as prime It makes all the difference!)
3 medium onions, finely sliced
1 orange pepper, finely sliced
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1 poblano or cubanelle pepper
9 total garlic cloves, 6 finely minced, 3 whole for marinating the steak
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or see our Tips for substitutions)
2 bay leaves
1.5 cups vino seco
2-3 cups of beef broth or water
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup of extra Virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of Sazon (or 2 packets)
- Take your meat and season it with salt and pepper and a little bit of sazon. Then cut three holes in the meat, and insert a clove of garlic in each hole. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on the meat and let it rest and come to room temp while it marinates and you are dicing your veggies and getting ready for the sofrito.
- In the Instant Pot, set the saute setting. Add oil into the insert. Once oil is hot, add in onions and peppers. Season the onions and peppers with the rest of the sazon, salt and pepper and your bay leaves. Sautee for a few minutes until soft.
- Now add your garlic with a little more olive oil. Once the garlic is cooked mix in with the veggies and add the rest of the sazon. Saute for about 2 more minutes, stirring often. Taste and check if you should adjust your salt.
- Next, add in the tomato paste and mix all together. Once it starts to thicken, add in your wine.
- Next, drop in your steak. cover it with the sofrito. Flip it a few times to make sure you really get it covered. Now add in the broth/water just to barely cover the steak. You may need a little more or a little less depending on how much meat and sofrito you have.
- Set the Instant Pot on a high pressure setting for 38 minutes or on the Beef Setting, then do a natural release when the times goes off.
- When the Instant Pot has depressurized, remove the beef and shred it in a separate bowl. Remove the excess fat and return the beef to the Instant Pot. Mix the ingredients together. At this point taste and add additional salt to your liking. At this point, add in lime juice to your liking as well.
- Serve with white rice and black beans.