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City Palate Recipe: Aidas Dawood Basha served with Couscous

Meat

Ropa Vieja

Mar/Apr 2008
This recipe, which means "old clothes" was introduced to the Americas by the Spanish in the 16th century. Though this is a Cuban version, many Latin American countries have their own versions, but they all shred the meat until it resembles old, tattered clothing. From Latin American Cooking Across the U.S.A., by Himilce Novas and Rosemary Silva.

1 flank steak (2 lbs)
2 large onions, peeled, 1 cut in half, the other minced
1 small bay leaf
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 T. olive oil
1 c. tomato purée
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
Salt to taste
3 T. capers, drained
1 4-oz jar sliced red pimientos, drained

Lay the flank steak in a large pot. Add the onion halves, bay leaf and enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the steak is tender. Transfer to a cutting board, allow to cool for 20 minutes, then slice across the grain into 2-inch wide strips. Shred the strips into fine strands with the tines of two forks. Place the shredded steak on a large serving dish and keep warm. Discard the onion halves and bay leaf. Reserve the stock.

Make the sauce by sautéeing the pepper, minced onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée, 1 1/2 cups reserved stock, cinnamon, cloves and salt; reduce the heat and simmer the sauce, covered, for about 15 minutes. Add the capers and simmer 5 minutes more. Pour the sauce over the shredded steak; stir the steak with a fork to coat it with sauce, and garnish with the sliced pimientos. Serve with white rice. Serves 4.