Ropa Vieja

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cuban
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 61kcal
A traditional Cuban dish that's packed with vibrant flavors!
Print Recipe


  • 1 1½ lb Chuck roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup Sofrito (recipe follows)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 8-ounce cans Spanish-style tomato sauce May sub regular tomato sauce for a milder version.
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 celery stalks with leaves, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 3 medium carrots trimmed and cut into ¼-inch dice

For the sofrito

  • 2 medium Spanish onions cut into large chunks
  • 3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers
  • 8-10 to matillos
  • 16 to 20 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 large bunch cilantro washed
  • 3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 large red bell pepper cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1 Anaheim chili


For the sofrito

  • Chop the onion and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  • With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes beautifully.
  • Freeze excess sofrito in ½ cup batches in sealable plastic bags.
    *see note

For the Ropa Vieja

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Season both sides of the beef generously with salt, pepper and onion powder.
  • Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof, heavy skillet over high heat until rippling. Add the beef and cook it until well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain or spoon off most of the fat from the pan.
  • Stir in the sofrito, 2 teaspoons salt, cumin, tomato sauce, water, olives, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover the dish and bake until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork, about 3 hours. Let stand in the sauce until cool enough to handle.
  • Shred the meat coarsely by hand or using two forks.
  • Return it to the sauce and add the celery and carrots. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Watch the liquid as it cooks, and add more broth or water as needed.
  • Serve with black beans and yellow rice.


*Now, sofrito purists will tell you that it has to be simmered or braised before it’s a true sofrito. I disagree with this entirely. At least the way I use it, it always gets cooked anyway, and why would I braise it just to leave all that flavor in the braising pot? I say throw it together raw, and let it cook and meld flavors in whatever dish you’re making as it cooks.
Alternative cooking method: Add all ingredients for Ropa Vieja to a crock pot. Cook on low for 6 hours.


Sodium: 68mg | Calcium: 10mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 3842IU | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 78mg | Cholesterol: 1mg | Calories: 61kcal | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fat: 6g | Protein: 1g | Carbohydrates: 2g | Iron: 1mg