When I first started at Project Angel Heart, Logan Lafferty, our Modified Meals Specialist, told me that he has always wanted to serve Ropa Vieja to our clients. Literally translated, Ropa Vieja means “torn clothes”, and was given the name due to the appearance of the shredded beef. We typically use 400 pounds of beef for a client meal at Project Angel Heart, so shredding that much flank steak isn’t feasible. In our version, we stew the meat for an extra hour so it just falls apart. At home, you can make it in the crockpot.
Ropa Vieja with Yellow Rice and Broccoli
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 pounds beef flank steak, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 yellow onions, julienne
- 2 red bell peppers, julienne
- 2 green bell peppers, julienne
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, low sodium or no salt added
- 1 quart chicken broth, low sodium or no salt added
- 1 quart beef broth, low sodium or no salt added
- 1.5 tablespoons cumin, ground
- 1.5 tablespoons coriander, ground
- 1.5 tablespoons oregano, dry
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup green olives, sliced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon turmeric, ground
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 4 broccoli crowns, cut into florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
For the Ropa Vieja:
Place a large pot on the stove over medium high heat. Let it get hot, then add the canola oil and flank steak and season with the salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is brown on all sides, then add the onion and bell peppers and saute for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, diced tomatoes, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Let cook for about 2 minutes, or until the spices become fragrant, then add the chicken broth and beef broth. Let it come to a boil, then transfer to your crockpot and add the raisins and olives. Let the stew simmer for three to four hours, or until the beef starts to fall apart. It should shred easily and have the resemblance of “torn clothes”- hence the name.
For the Yellow Rice:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan or pot that is suitable for the oven, add the rice, water, turmeric, and salt. Bring to a boil on the stove. (Start on your broccoli while you wait for the water to boil). Once it boils, cover the pan with foil and place it in the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes, then check the rice. If there is still a little liquid in the pan, re-cover and cook for 5 more minutes. Fluff the rice and it’s ready to go.
For the Broccoli:
While waiting for the rice and water to boil, toss broccoli florets in a mixing bowl with olive oil and salt. Spread florets on a baking sheet. Put the broccoli in the oven at the same time as the rice- they will take about the same time to cook.
Fold chopped cilantro into the Ropa Vieja. Spoon some yellow rice into the bottom of a bowl and top with stew. Add broccoli on the side and enjoy!
Brandon Foster began his life in the kitchen at the Best Western in Frisco, Colorado almost 18 years ago. His passion for ingredients and drive to learn technique led him down the mountain to Denver, where he worked in two of Denver’s most fondly remembered restaurants, The Fourth Story and Mel’s. He joined the crew at Vesta in 2005 as a line cook and became executive chef in 2010, focusing on getting back to the roots of cooking through charcuterie and seasonal ingredients. Ultimately, Chef Brandon’s career highlights centered on events like Plates for the Peak, Invest in Kids, and James Beard Foundation dinners where he could play a role in helping people in need- a passion that led him to Project Angel Heart in 2016. Outside the kitchen, Chef Brandon enjoys spending time skiing, camping, golfing, and eating with his wife Larissa and their three kids.