Ropa Vieja: Braised Beef in Spicy Tomato and Pepper Sauce
Serve shedded beef, slowly braised in a veggie broth and then soaked in a pepper sauce, in tacos or sliders.
For the beef:
- 4 pounds flank steak
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
- Salt and pepper
- About 2 quarts water
- A handful of cilantro (for a bright flavor) or flat leaf parsley (for a grassy flavor)
- 2-3 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 large onion, root attached, peeled and quartered
- A few ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 large fresh bay leaves
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 medium bell peppers, green, red and yellow, seeded and chopped
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Fresno chili pepper (a red, fruity hot chili) or jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin (half a palmful)
- 1 sprig fresh oregano, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- A small handful of cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pimento-stuffed Spanish olives, chopped
- About 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
- Very thinly sliced red onions dressed in lime juice and seasoned with salt and pepper
- Drained pickled sliced jalapeños
- Dress the meat with EVOO, salt and pepper. Brown the meat over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add water, cilantro or parsley, oregano, onion, celery, carrots, garlic and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let rest for half an hour.
- Remove the meat to a shallow platter and shred with forks; cover and reserve. Strain the braising liquids and return to the pot. Reduce over medium-high heat about 30 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Heat the EVOO, two turns of the pan, in a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onion, garlic and chili pepper to the EVOO. Season with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook to soften, 8-10 minutes. Add in the cilantro or parsley, olives and tomato paste; stir a minute, then deglaze with the reduced braising liquid and stir in the tomatoes to combine.
- Slide in the shredded beef and simmer for a few more minutes more to allow the beef to soak in the sauce.
- Serve with rolls or tortillas for a party snack or serve with rice and beans as a meal. Top the beef with red onions dressed with lime and pickled jalapeños for garnish.