Ropa Vieja

Not much paleo-ization is needed for this classic Cuban dish. Chop, dump into a pot, and let the heat do all the work. As Ina would say…how easy is that?


  • 1 ½ lbs flank steak, cut into 1/3’s*
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 c  stock (any kind)
  • 2 handfuls of green, pimento stuffed, olives
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced in ½ moons and then into strips
  • 3 red peppers, sliced in ½, then sliced into strips
  • 2 T olive juice
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • s & p


Dump all the ingredients into a medium sized soup/casserole pot (anything you have w/ high sides that will fit a lid). Place the stove heat on medium, cover with the lid and let simmer for 1 hour. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour. You’re looking for beef that’s easily shredded. Take out the beef pieces and place onto a cutting board. Use two forks (one to hold the meat in place and the other to shred) to pull, (against the grain of  the meat) it into nice, thin shreds. Put the shredded beef back into the pot. Stir it around and serve. Traditionally, this Cuban dish is served with rice, we made smashed plantains…a recipe (not that it really needs a recipe) we will post in the next few days. Promise.

*Why 1/3’s? I wanted the meat to be in smaller pieces so it would tenderize quicker. I’d bet that if you sliced the flank steak into 1/4’s ,or thin strips, before you started cooking, it would take even less time to tenderize. I’d be interested to hear the results, if any of you try this.


30 responses to “Ropa Vieja”

  1. Do you think dumping it all into a slowcooker in the morning would work? I don’t usually have time to wait for stuff to cook an hour once I get home from work.

    1. i definitely think that would work. let me know if you try it out and how it works out.

    2. I know this comment was posted a few years ago…but just in case someone is wondering the same thing…it is still tasty if done in the crock pot, however if it remains covered the whole time the liquid doesn’t reduce and it is more “soupy” and has less flavor that when prepared the way it’s written above. I’m sure you could make it work in the crock pot, but I prefer it this way. We’re having this tonight! We’re less than an hour in and it already smells amazing…not sure how we’ll last!!

  2. What could I substitute for flank steak?

    1. brisket and short ribs are nice options for the shredded consistency. otherwise, i think you could use skirt, hanger, sirloin, tri tip or similar cuts, to get a quick, sear ‘n slice type of ropa vieja.

  3. Mike Strickland

    This one gave me more trouble than most of your recipes, but I think it’s because I lack cooking intuition.

    Simmering on medium (4-5) on my electric range that goes to 10/HI resulted in far too high a rate of water loss from boiling and too much heat on the bottom… enough that it badly scorched a layer of carbon onto the bottom of the pan.

    Also, a reminder to slice the flank steak with the grain and not across it would be a good reminder for non-cooks like me, who don’t think of that sort of thing until I’m trying to shred cross-cut 1 inch slices of flank steak on a cutting board.

    It still tastes good, but I’ll try it again some time to see what it’s like without the cooked-in scorchy taste.

    1. hope you didn’t ruin your pot. 🙁

      how could there have been that much evaporation if the lid was on…dang. we have the same type of range, and i kept mine at that same temp. range as you …and the recipe doesssss say simmer…not boil. 😉

      thanks for the heads up a/b the shredding…i have updated the recipe.

  4. Looking forward to the plantain recipe!!!

  5. Justin in ATL

    Just put this on the stove. Hopefully, it’ll make for nice and warm dinner amidst all this snow and ice… I’m guessing the weather in SC is much like it is here?

  6. Justin in ATL

    Ok, the wife gives the official OM NOM NOM. Megan Keatley, you’re my hero.

  7. Justin in ATL

    Forget my “Om Nom Noms” though they apply to this; the wife just declared this “The best paleo dish” I’ve made so far. Let it be really, really cold tonight!!!

  8. did you try it with the plantains? if not, might add another “nom” at the end. so glad you like it…and yes…the weather here is not normal. i can’t call it “bad” because our northern friends will make fun of us.

    1. thanks so much justin!!! love the noms…keep ’em coming!

  9. Justin in ATL

    Not yet. Haven’t tried to drive since Sunday, the three salt
    trucks Atlanta has are not enough, so using what I’ve got on hand. Made this with skirt steak since I didn’t have flank; it shreds nicely also. Next time, I’ll make the plantains as well.

  10. I just made this last night and it was fantastic. My wife even liked it and she doesn’t eat paleo (yet).

  11. hahaha, that’s awesome! thank you steve!

  12. Ok, my husband asked for this twice – which is unheard of. He didn’t really like the plantains, but I think that was my fault. I think I didn’t cook them long enough. Regardless, I liked them. He kept talking to his friends about the paleo cuban dish that was so amazing… Even the 4 year old twins liked it!

  13. I was very suspicious of the plantain mash but my goodness – made this last night for a non paleo friend and it was RIDICULOUS =)

    Thank you so much for continuing to provide these awesome recipes!

    1. awww, thank you so much jasmine!

  14. I’ve made this twice so far and put it over cauliflower rice. It’s great! May have to try the plantains next time. I add some paprika too. Thanks for the recipes!

  15. This is a really delicious recipe! And so easy. I will definitely be making it again!

    1. glad you liked it crystal. thanks!

  16. Virginia

    Another great dish! I used up all my cumin and Tabasco on this recipe, but I would have liked it a little spicier. Next time I’ll be sure to stock up first! By the way, I used grass-fed London Broil (because they didn’t have flank steak, and I forgot to write down the substitutes in the recipe). It still shredded, although it might have been even better with the appropriate cut.

    I also made the plantains – they’re interesting, but I think I prefer the cauliflower. Thanks again!

  17. […] What I’m eating this week: We went Cuban last night and it didn’t disappoint. It needs a couple of hours cooking time so its not great for a mid-week, but save it for a weekend treat! […]

  18. Wow. This was fantastic and easy. Can’t wait to make it again.

  19. This is even more flavourful the next day!! The only blooper was cutting the flank steak against the grain before dumping it into the pot hence it turned out somewhat tough and unshreddable (pardon my English). Still tasty nonetheless 😀

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