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Ropa Vieja, is a sauteed combination of meat and vegetable leftovers from the Spanish Cocido. The latter was a traditional Sunday meal my mother used to cook for us on weekends. It was also a mainstay at large family gatherings.
Ropa Vieja in my American kitchen today, is my Filipino-Spanish version of what my mom used to make.
Ropa Vieja, which means old clothes in Spanish is a very popular dish in Cuba, as well as in Latin American and Caribbean countries. But its origins can be traced back to Spain, during the middle ages, when leftovers of stews like ‘puchero or cocida’ were repurposed into this dish with a myriad of flavors.
To make this, I suggest you serve Cocido to your family this weekend or in the near future. Cocido can be made by simmering together the meats and vegetables, then plating them nestled together. The combination of meats — beef, pork, and chicken – flavors the stew which has been simmering for a while, till it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. I have a recipe for my mother’s Spanish Cocido in my cookbook My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. And it was featured on Positively Filipino magazine, too.
We often always have leftovers from the weekend Cocido. So, I gather all those ingredients together, slice the meat into shreds, chop up the vegetables, and I make the Ropa Vieja by Monday to start the week. There are no hard and fast rules to cooking Ropa Vieja. Go with what you have left from the Cocido meal. You can even add more tomato sauce and broth, or even more vegetables to give it a whiff of freshness.
The transformation to a totally new dish is magnificent. There is something in it for every one – sweet, savory, soft, fall-off-the-bone meats, tender, savory, smokey, spicy, saucy. Serve this mélange of Ropa Vieja with rice, and it is just the dish to welcome the New Year.
- Large Skillet
- chopping board
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 whole Spanish Chorizo, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 whole red bell pepper, sliced, seeded
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups broth (beef, chicken, pork, or vegetable)
- 1 cup cooked shredded beef slices
- 1 cup cooked sliced pork
- 1 cup cooked sliced chicken
- 2 whole cooked potatoes, cubed
- ½ cup cooked carrots, sliced
- 1 cup cooked green beans, sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 1 to 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage; or use regular cabbage
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- 1 cup boiled plantains (saging saba), sliced
- steamed rice
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, pour the extra virgin olive oil.When oil is hot enough, add the Spanish Chorizos and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes till edges are crisp and pan is flavored.Remove the Spanish chorizos from the skillet an set aside.
- In the same skillet, saute the garlic, onions, and bell peppers till fragrant for about 1 to 2 minute.Pour the tomato sauce and paste. Mix well.Pour the broth and combine the liquids.
- Add the shredded slices of beef, pork and chicken.Then add the vegetables: potatoes, carrots, green beans and cabbage. Combine ingredients well till sauce coats everything. Season with salt and pepper.Simmer for about 10 minutes for flavors to blend.Add the boiled slices of plantains. Return the Spanish Chorizo slices to the mixture.Serve warm with steamed rice.
- You can use leftovers from the Spanish Cocido. My recipe is here. Or you can start from scratch, and boil the meats till tender, then saute them accordingly.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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