Ropa Vieja
(Cuban Stewed Shredded Beef)

Submitted by Arfito


Serves about 4 Cubans or 8 Americans
4 pounds chuck or arm roast of beef, cut length wise or strips and it is good if it has lots of fat in it

Ok you are going to cook the meat in the stuff below, then prepare sauce and add it.  You can serve this with Cuban white rice (recipe below), a salad and the ever present plantains (either tostones or chips)

Ingredients to cook the meat before the sauce:
Salt and black pepper for seasoning
Flour for dusting the meat
Olive Oil for browning, virgin I think would be best
Water, you sort of check
1 green  pepper in little chunks, (bell pepper or any other NOT hot pepper)
1 big white onion sliced
5 cloves garlic, chopped or more if you really like garlic

Ingredients to add after the meat has somewhat cooked:
2 cups white onion very well chopped
4 cloves garlic mashed with 1 tsp. salt (kosher is ok)
2 cups green  pepper, chopped (use any type of pepper you like but DO NOT USE MEXICAN HOT PEPPERS
Good Virgin Olive Oil or your favorite for sautéing,

and here is the secret to every good Cuban dish, the sofrito.
4 ounces tomato paste, if you can find it do a Spanish kind (ed. note - if you're lucky your local grocery store will have a Goya aisle)
1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 32 ounces of crushed tomatoes from fresh
2 tbls. Ground cumin 
1 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf or more if you like
Salt and pepper to taste, yeah you are allowed to taste as you cook and listen to Cuban music.  Music is very important so you can get the cooking done right ok.

Do not trim fat from meat before cooking.  Salt and pepper the meat and dust lightly with flour.  Do not overdo the salt and pepper or you will goof the whole thing from the start.
Brown the meat in the oil that has been previously warmed. Add enough water to surround the meat, DO NOT COVER THE POT.  Add green pepper, onion and garlic. Low heat, cover the pot now, for about two hours UNTIL MEAT IS FORK-TENDER.  Add water as you go along to keep the meat from burning!  Remove from the heat and cool.  Discard vegetables; Shred the meat with a fork.
In the same pot you cooked the meat in, sauté or sofrito the onions, garlic, and green pepper from the second half of ingredients until you see them go limp or soft.  Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, cumin, wine, and bay leaf.  Salt and pepper to your taste now.  When it starts to smell really good add the shredded beef that you cooked before.  COVER THE POT and cook for low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  You can remove the bay leaf or leave it, up to you.  Serve with rice, salad and plantains.

Arroz Blanco Cuban Style = White rice the Cuban way
Note:  You must always remember that we Cubans love to eat so if you are serving people who eat regular portions you have to double or triple for Cubans ok.
2 cups uncooked long grain rice
3 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, peeled smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Rinse the rice for about a couple of minutes.
If you have a rice cooker (Itachi) put everything in it and wait until you hear the bell that tells you it’s done.
If you do not have a rice cooker, put on a big pot with a lid and cover. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.  I do not guarantee the accuracy as I always screw it up.
Fried Green Plantains
Make sure no one is in the kitchen before dinner! These are always stolen by those thieving family members.
Vegetable canola oil for frying, I hate the taste of corn oil
3 green plantains from a good place, do not be cheated of a good plantain go to a Spanish store they would not dare insult you with a bad plantain
Salt if you like it, I never salt mine
Cut plantains in chunks.  Fry in oil that is very hot until they are halfway done.
Take plantains out and drain on either paper towels or brown paper.  Get a coffee can or tuna can.  Smash those suckers into crackers.
Fry again until done. Sprinkle with salt if you like them that way.  Watch out for your family members! They will demolish the plantains and then bicker that you did not make enough.  I am very serious about this.  If you want plantain chips you have to buy a special little gadget to slice.  You can get one online I suppose but if you are ever in Miami go to any Sedano’s or Winn Dixie Supermarkets and they will have it.  (ed. note - for anyone unfamiliar with plantains, or platanos, even though they LOOK like hard green bananas they're not sweet.  Fried plantains always remind me of Fritos to give you some idea of the taste)
Do any salad you like. However lettuce and tomato are just fine.  Who needs salad if you have plantains?