Food & Drink

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja, a Spanish shredded beef stew, and the national dish of Cuba, is perfect dish for a slow cooker.


When I was in graduate school in NYC, my food budget was pretty slim. So my friends and I would frequently eat in cheap Cuban-Chinese restaurants such as Mi Chinita in Chelsea, where we could get a lot of food for very little money. One of my favorite dishes there was ropa vieja, a shredded beef stew of Spanish origin that is today known as a national dish of Cuba. Ropa vieja means “old clothes” in Spanish.  


2 – 2 ½ Pounds Flank or Skirt Steak – trimmed of excess fat and cut in half if large

2 Tbsp Sazon Seasoning (available in the Latin section of most supermarkets)

Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper – to taste

1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil

1 medium Yellow Onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large Bell Peppers – seeded and thinly sliced (I use one red and one green)

3 cloves Garlic – peeled and minced

1 large Bay Leaf

1 (14.5 ounce) can Crushed Tomatoes

1 Cup low-sodium Beef Broth

2 Tbsp Tomato Paste

1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

2 tsp Ground Cumin

2 tsp Dried Oregano


  1. Place the flank steak on a clean work surface and pat it dry with paper towels. Then, season the beef generously on both sides with Sazon, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding the pan, add the flank steak to the hot pan. Sear for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the steak is browned and well caramelized on the outside. Remove steak from the pan and set it aside.
  3. Add the bay leaf, crushed tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, vinegar, cumin and oregano to a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Then, add the seared steak to the slow cooker, submerging it in the sauce. Finally, add the onions, bell peppers and garlic on top of the seared meat. Season everything with salt and pepper to taste; then, stir to combine.
  4. Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours), or until meat can easily be shredded. Remove the bay leaf and discard it.
  5. Remove the lid from the slow cooker and use 2 forks to pull the beef apart into long shreds.
  6. Stir the shredded beef in the slow cooker to combine well with the sauce. Transfer the ropa vieja to bowls or plates and serve with rice and black beans (traditional). 
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