Ropa vieja recipe

(15 ratings)

This South American classic ropa vieja is delicious and full of flavours and spices. With tender shredded beef served with rice, this dish is tasty

Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 55 mins
Total Time2 hours 10 mins

A rich spicy shredded beef dish from Cuba with lots of South American flavours. Traditional accompaniments include rice, black beans, fried plantain and deep fried crispy thin yam slices. It only takes 15 mins to prepare and 1hr 55 mins to cook, which means it’ll be extra flavoursome, delicious and tender, similar to pulled pork. The perfect weekend treat or a great takeaway alternative to share with the family.


  • 675g stewing beef, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Jalapenos chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3cm piece root ginger, grated
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼tsp ground allspice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooked red pepper strips to garnish




  1. Put the beef in a saucepan with half the onion, the bay leaf, sugar and salt. Pour in sufficient water to cover, then bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 1 ½hrs until tender.
  2. Reserving the cooking stock, remove the beef using a slotted spoon and shred into thin strips. Set aside. Strain the cooking stock and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the remaining onion with the garlic, chillies and ginger for 10 mins until softened. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the garnish and cook, stirring, for about 10 mins until thick and tender.
  4. Stir the beef into the spicy vegetable sauce and mix in sufficient cooking stock to make a thick sauce. Cook, stirring, for a further 5 mins to heat through. Taste and season as necessary.
  5. To serve, spoon on to warm serving plates; garnish with pepper strips and serve immediately with rice and vegetables.
Top Tip for making Ropa vieja

Allspice is widely used in Cuban cuisine; it is richly aromatic and is used to flavour sweet and savoury dishes. If unavailable, add a couple of cloves instead.


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