This Gluten Free Ropa Vieja is a tribute to the savory and comforting flavors of Cuban food. When people think of Florida, they might immediately think Disney World or our endless bounty of beaches. To experience Florida though is to be immersed in rich cultures and exposed to a wealth of incredible food. At just over 90 miles in distance, Cuba is a close neighbor and a part of our culture, history, and cuisine.
Ropa Vieja, Tasty Old Clothes
Let’s jump into your immersion into Cuban cuisine. Ropa Vieja is a traditional dish, often made from flank steak or skirt steak, or cuts traditionally known to be tough. It literally translates to old clothes due to the texture of the shredded meat.
If you’re not familiar with ropa vieja, it’s a rich, savory beef stew cooked low and slow. Like a pot roast, the meat is braised in aromatics like onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers. The meat becomes fall apart tender, begging to be layered on top of rice to suck up all of that decadent sauce.
If you like this recipe you should definitely check out my Gluten Free Beef Short Rib Ragu.
All About the Slow and Low
In this Gluten Free and Dairy Free version of ropa vieja we’re using chuck roast. This cut is both readily available and affordable, and perfect for a long cook.
All of the work is at the front end of this dish. To begin with, brown your meat, building that first layer of flavor from caramelization. Then add your base for the sauce…wine, onions, celery, and carrots. Finally, add your remaining ingredients, cover it up, and let the magic happen.
The longer this cooks, the more tender and luxurious the meat becomes. When you’re ready to serve your ropa vieja, the traditional accompaniments are rice, either white or yellow, sweet sticky plantains, and black beans.
You can mix things up by trying garlicky yuca con mojo, or arroz congri.
Now that I know your mouth is water, turn on the salsa music, and let’s get ready to make ropa vieja!
- Cutting board
- Dutch Oven
- 2-3 lbs. chuck roast
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 onions, sliced thin large
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced thin large
- 12 oz roasted red peppers, drained, sliced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 14 oz diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 cups pitted green olives, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups chicken stock
- parsley, for plating optional
- Rice, black beans, sweet fried plantains, for serving
- Heat your dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil.
- Pat roast dry. Season both sides of the chuck roast with salt and pepper.
- Sear both sides of the chuck roast, until deep brown and caramelized. Set aside.
- Add the onions, celery, and carrots along with the wine to the dutch oven. Cook for approximately 5-8 minutes until the onions are beginning to get tender and the wine is starting to reduce.
- Add remaining ingredients, and mix well.
- Place your chuck roast on top of the vegetables and braising liquid. Cover.
- Reduce heat to low and cook until fork tender, approximately 3 hours.
- Serve with rice, beans, and plantains, or your favorite accompaniments. Enjoy!