Chef Marta’s Cuban Ropa Vieja Recipe

Ropa Vieja is a dish that can be prepared a day or two in advance, which will enhancethe flavor and leave you time to Ropa Viejaenjoy the guests at your table. In Cuba this dish is served with Congri (black beans and rice), yucca with mojo and sweet plantains. Serves 4 to 6 people.  This recipe comes from Chef Marta Quintana from the Havana Road Cafe in Towson, MD, right outside of Baltimore.

The Meat

  •  2 qts water or enough to cover the brisket
  •   3 lbs flat/first cut brisket, trimmed of excess fat
  •  1 tspwhole black peppercorns
  •  3 ea dried bay leaves
  •  1 tsp sea salt
  •   4 cloves garlic, peeled
  •   1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

 The Sauce

  •   ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 C green pepper, finely diced – approximately 1 medium green pepper
  •   1C yellow onion, finely diced –approximate 1 large yellow onion
  •   1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
  •  1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  •   ½ C dry white wine
  •   1 tsp ground black pepper
  •  1 tsp sweet paprika
  •   1 tsp ground cumin
  •   1 Tbsp onion powder
  •   1 Tbsp garlic powder
  •  1 tsp dried oregano
  •   1 tsp dried basil
  •   ¾ C tomato paste
  •   ½ C+ dry white wine
  •  1 C tomato sauce


2 C+ strained beef boiling liquid

2 ea limes juiced


The Meat

1. Use a Dutch oven or roasting pan with a tight fitting lid. You want your brisket to just fit in the bottom with not a lot of space around it. Start with 2 quarts of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add the brisket. The water should just cover the brisket. If there is too much liquid just ladle it out or add enough to cover.

2. Add the whole peppercorns, bay leaves, sea salt, whole garlic cloves and teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.

3.Reduce to a rapid simmer and cover. Watch the water, you don’t want it to boil over but you want it to be active. Check from time to time to make sure the liquid hasn’t evaporated too much. In the end it might reduce itself by half.

4. Cook the brisket for two to two and a half hours until it is fork tender.

5. While the brisket cooks you can start to cook your sauce.

The Sauce

1. Heat a large saucepan, 4 or 5 quart, on medium high heat. Add the ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, the diced onions, the diced green peppers, the minced garlic and the 1 tablespoons of Kosher salt. Stir for about two minutes and then add the ½ cup of dry white wine. Let that cook until the onions become translucent.

2.Once the onions are translucent add the ground black pepper, sweet paprika, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir.

3. Take the dried oregano and basil and rub them in the palms of your hands to enhance their flavor and add to the pot. Stir for about two minutes. Add the tomato paste and ½ cup of dry white wine. Stir constantly to blend the vegetables, herbs, wine and paste. Stir and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until well blended and cooked. 4. Add the cup of tomato sauce, stir to blend and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. It will be fairly thick but if you think it needs a bit of thinning, just add a ¼ cup more of white wine. Turn off the heat when done. Assembly 1. Once the brisket is deemed fork tender. Turn off the heat under the pot, take off the lid and let it sit in the liquid for 30 minutes.

2. Put the brisket on a cutting board. Take the beef boiling liquid which is now a beef broth and strain the solids reserving the beef broth. Throw away the solids. Take the sauce and put it in the now empty Dutch oven or roasting pan you cooked the brisket. Add two cups of the strained beef broth to the sauce and the juice of the two limes. Stir. Reserve the remaining beef broth if you need to or wish to thin the sauce. Any leftover broth can be frozen and used in a soup.

3.While the brisket is hot with two forks, start to shred the meat in long strings, which is with the grain of the meat. Once all the meat is shredded add to the sauce. Stir to blend and let simmer on a low heat for approximate 20 to 30 minutes. If the sauce seems too thick at the end of simmer time thin it with some of the remaining beef broth from the brisket.