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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Old Clothes

As you have probably noticed, I love braised food.  Chicken, beef, lamb.  It doesn't matter.   I love it all.  I think braising is the perfect way to cook in the winter.

Having now gone on about my love of braising, I was trying to think of a braised dish I could prepare using canned tomatoes.  (Yes, we are still competing in the Tomato Bowl.)   Also, since I live in Pittsburgh, I have been thinking about what to make to eat during the Steelers victory on Sunday.  In a true lightbulb moment it came to me.  Ropa Vieja, which means "old clothes," is the perfect choice.  It can be made ahead and feeds a crowd.   It's beyond tasty, and, yes, ropa vieja calls for canned tomatoes.  Score!

Now, just let me tell you, ropa vieja is not something you're going to be able to throw together in 20 minutes.   It's a process, so leave yourself time.  It can be made a say or two ahead but it still will take you a lot time to make.  First, there's the braising.  Then there's the sauteing and the shredding.  After that there's simmering and then more sauteing.  You get the picture.

But the end result is so worth it.  The meat comes out meltingly tender and the braising liquid is rich and delicious.  Serve it over some yellow rice and you'll have the most gourmet tailgate (in your living room) party ever.

Recipe:  Ropa Vieja
(Gourmet Magazine, January, 1995)


For braising beef:

3 pounds flank steak, trimmed
2 quarts water
2 carrots, chopped coarse
1 large onion, chopped coarse
2 celery ribs, chopped coarse
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, crushed lightly
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 red onion, cut into 1/4 inch strips
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups braising liquid, additional if desired

a 14 - 16 ounce can of whole tomatoes in juice, chopped, Red Pack brand, of course
2 tablespoons tomato paste, also Red Pack brand
 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips


For yellow rice with toasted cumin:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt

To braise beef:

In a 5-quart dutch oven combine all braising ingredients and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender.  Remove pot from heat and cool meat in liquid for 30 minutes.  Transfer meat to a platter and cover.  Strain braising liquid through a colander, pressing on solids, into a bowl.  Return braising liquid to the pot and boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes.

In the pot cook the green peppers and onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil over moderate heat, stirring until softened.

While vegetables are cooking, pull the meat into shreds about 3 by 11/2 inches.  To onion mixture add shredded meat, 2 cups braising liquid, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

While stew is simmering, in a large skillet cook red and yellow peppers in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.  Stir peppers into stew with enough additional braising liquid to this to desired consistency and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Serve ropa vieja over yellow rice.

To make the yellow rice:

In a heavy 3 quart saucepan heat olive oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and saute cumin seed 10 seconds, or until it turns a few shades darker and is fragrant.  Stir in saffron and rice and saute, stirring 1 to 2 minutes, or until the rice is coated well.  Stir in water and salt and boil rice, uncovered and without stirring, until the surface of the rice is covered with steam holes and grains on top appear dry, 8 to 10 minutes more.  Remove pan from heat and let rice stand, covered, 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nadine!
    What a lovely blog you have and the food, my goodness everything sounds delicious!

    I too live in PA, and today, I discovered your blog while in search of recipe links to include in a post I'm doing on February 2nd celebrating Ina Garten's birthday.

    I've chosen your link for the Pappa al Pomodoro. I hope you don't mind.

    Thank you so much for sharing...If you would like to see the round-up, it will be posted Wednesday morning.

    Thanks again,