Ropa Vieja means “old clothes” in Spanish. There is a Cuban legend that a poor man once shredded the shirt off his back to feed his hungry family. As the fragments of fabric cooked in a pot, they transformed miraculously into strips of meat – and so Cuba’s national dish was born. Made with tomato, peppers, and sweet and smoky paprika, Ropa Vieja is Caribbean home-cooking at its best: humble, healthy, and sprinkled with magic.
1. In a large pan, fry the red peppers (and optional green peppers) in 2 tbs of oil on a low heat for 5 mins.
2. Add the onion and continue to fry for 5 mins.
3. While the onion and peppers are frying, stir mix 1 into 1/2 cup of warm water until it forms a broth.
4. Add the broth and organic tomatoes to the pan. Break tomatoes apart with a fork. Simmer for 5 mins.
5. Add the strips of beef (or sweet potatoes), mix 2 and mix 3 to the pan. Stir well, place a lid on the pan, and cook on a low heat for 30 mins.
6. Meanwhile, cook the rice. (Mix basmati rice with 1 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce the heat and cook with a lid on for 10 mins. After 10 mins remove the from the heat and let it finish cooking in its own steam for a further 10 mins).
7. After 30 mins of cooking, remove the lid from the pan and check the stew. It should be thickish. If it is still watery, cook with lid off for a few mins till it reaches desired consistency.
8. Once the stew is ready to serve, shred the beef using two forks or even your hands. Serve it on a bed of rice.