Ropa Vieja is Spanish and translates to ‘old clothes’. This dish was called ‘ropa vieja’ because of its very nature — it is a sautéed entree made from leftovers. Usually they are leftovers from a hefty, savory Beef Pochero Stew – a stew made of tender beef chunks, simmered in a tomato sauce stew with various vegetables filling up the stockpot.
Ropa Vieja reminds me of lazy Sundays and family meals when we gathered around the table and it seemed like we had all the time in the world to enjoy a lovely meal. The memories come back to me in slow motion. Sunday suppers meant a big bandejado (oval platter) of Beef Pochero, served with spicy Spanish chorizos, sweet boiled plantains (Saging Saba in the Philippines) and a side of eggplant salad.
Like always, our mothers and grandmothers never threw away anything. So my mother gathered the leftovers from the big Beef Pochero stew (click here for recipe). She shredded the beef, sliced the vegetables and collected the tomato sauce simmered in the large pot. With a cup of each, she magically transformed everything into a splendid Ropa Vieja sauté. The addictive garlic-onions aroma mixed in with tangy-sweet tomato sauce coated the tender beef shreds and colorful mix of vegetables. My favorite ingredients were the sliced sweet plantains and the robust Spanish chorizos. If I mixed all these in boiled rice, I made sure to pour the flavorful tomato sauce broth over the entire portion on my plate. To this day, nothing else warms the corners of my soul when I savor the familiar flavors.
When I cooked Beef Pochero for my own family, it was so scrumptious that my sons always asked for Ropa Vieja as soon as I served the beef stew. My boys already knew to expect Ropa Vieja right after the stew. Some dishes are more amazing the day after. This Ropa Vieja is proof of that. For my complete recipe of Ropa Vieja, check out The Happy Home Cook on Positively Filipino, a premiere online magazine celebrating stories of Filipinos globally. My recipe version is below.
Ropa Vieja - Spanish Shredded Beef Saute with Vegetables
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic peeled, minced
- 1 whole onion chopped
- 1 Tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup organic beef broth
- 1 cup cooked shredded beef
- 1 cup cubed cookedpotatoes
- 1 cup cubed cooked carrots
- 1 cup sliced cooked green beans cut into 2-inch length pieces
- 1 to 2 cups shredded cooked bok choy or cabbage shredded into 2-inch length pieces
- 1 cup sliced boiled plantains
- 1 cup sliced cooked Spanish chorizos
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- for serving: boiled rice
- In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the vegetable or corn oil. Saute the garlic and onions. Add the fish sauce or Filipino ‘patis’. Cook for 1 minute or till onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the tomato sauce from the Beef Pochero dish and broth. Blend well till broth boils. Lower heat.
- Add all the leftovers starting with the shredded beef and chorizos.
- Add the rest of the leftover vegetables starting with the potatoes and carrots, then the green beans. Add the leftover banana plantains. Add the green leafy leftover vegetables last. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with fragrant jasmine white rice.
- Cook's comments: I have always cooked Ropa Vieja from leftovers of a tomato sauce-based Beef Pochero dish, the way my mother taught me. If you don't have remnants of beef pochero, use leftovers from other stews with the vegetables and sauces tossed in. This is a very forgiving recipe and creativity is the key ingredient.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]