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This week my recipe is a warming and hearty stew called Ropa Vieja. Traditionally it is made with beef but if you are vegetarian or vegan we have a delicious version using jackfruit!
Ropa Vieja is Cuba’s national dish and the name literally translates to “old clothes”. I assume this is because the meat falls apart! You will also find variations of this dish around the Caribbean and Spain.
I've made this a few times trying both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker but for me, the slow cooker version definitely had a greater depth of flavour. If you don't have a slow cooker you can also cook it low and slow on your stovetop using a casserole pot.
And the best bit is that the recipe is naturally gluten and dairy free so you don’t have to change a thing!
I serve this dish with rice and guacamole but another great option is corn tortillas. You might need to drain off a little of the sauce but it makes delicious tacos!
WHAT TYPE OF BEEF
There is a bit of a debate over what cut to use, should it be chuck or flank (skirt in the UK), I have tried both and I prefer chuck as I think it works better for slow cooking. Try to buy the beef un-diced as you take the meat out at the end to shred it – this is easier to do if it is in big pieces.
THE VEGAN OPTION
Have you heard of Jackfruit? If not, you must try it! Jackfruit is a delicious healthy meat alternative that is taking over the vegan food scene. If you are like me and you can’t eat gluten then seitan is an absolute no go and I personally just can’t get excited by tofu. When jackfruit is cooked you can shred it so it works great as a meat replacement in recipes that use pulled pork or shredded chicken.
So now to the recipe itself….
Pat the beef dry with kitchen towel and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a little oil in a pan (or casserole pot if you are not using a slow cooker). Brown the beef on all sides and set aside on a plate. Do not clean the pan.
Add the sliced vegetables to the pan and sauté until softened and starting to caramelise (approx 10 minutes). Add the minced garlic and spices and cook for a further minute.
Add the white wine and bring it to the boil to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
Add the stock, tin of tomatoes, tomato puree and bay leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Put the meat back in the pan along with the carrot and celery. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. If you are using a slow cooker, transfer it now and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.5 to hours. If you are using a casserole pot, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 4 hours or until the beef falls apart.
Remove the celery, carrots and bay leaves and discard. Transfer the beef to a plate and using two forks shred it.
If you are using a casserole pot you will need to simmer the sauce with the lid off for 20-30 minutes to thicken it.
Add the beef back to the sauce along with the olives, roasted red peppers, capers and pimiento peppers if using. Warm through then stir in the parsley, season to taste and serve.
Recommended sides: rice, guacamole, black bean salad.
Follow steps 3, 4 and 5 using a casserole pot or large pan.
While the sauce is simmering, heat a medium size pain with 1 tbsp of oil and add the drained jackfruit to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, breaking it up slightly with a spoon. Add the jackfruit to the sauce for the remaining time – approx 15 minutes.
Once the 20 minutes are up, remove the jackfruit from the pan and shred with two forks. Add the shredded jackfruit back to the sauce and simmer for another 10 – 15 minute while the sauce thickens.
Add the olives, roasted red peppers, capers and pimiento peppers if using. Warm through, then stir in the parsley, season to taste and serve.
To see the original recipe on Daring Gourmet click here