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"Ropa vieja" means old clothes or rags; this is because the meat is shredded until it resembles old cloth.  It's a favorite in Hispanic restaurants in Miami.

This great dish isn't as hard as it looks at first glance.  The meat you select should have a grain at least 4 inches longer or more (in other words, a 2-1/2" thick chuck roast won't get it).   After you boil the beef, let it cool in the refrigerator.  When cool (but best not completely chilled) shred it while you watch TV.   The sauce is fast and easy.

Ropa Vieja

2 1/2 lbs. of lean beef, such as flanken, skirt steak or lean chuck
2 sprigs of parsley
2
bay leaves
2 large onions, peeled and halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large carrot, scraped and cut into chunks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp
black pepper
water to cover

Sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
1 green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
1 yellow or red pepper, cut in thin strips
1 large carrot, sliced diagonally in 1/4" slices
4 garlic cloves
2/3 cup broken salad olives, drained
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp
black pepper
1/4 tsp ground bay leaf
1/2 tsp
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp
dried oregano
1 cup (8 oz can) tomato sauce
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1 1/2 cup
beef broth
1 tbsp juice from olives
1 tbsp wine vinegar

Place the meat in a large, heavy pot.  Add the parsley, onions, garlic, bay leaf, salt and black pepper.  Add water to barely cover the meat.

Bring to a boil over high heat.  When boiling, cover, turn heat to the lowest heat possible and simmer for 2 hours.

Remove meat from the pot and set aside to cool.  With a slotted spoon, remove most of the vegetables. Boil rapidly to reduce stock to about 1/3 of its volume.  Taste; it's ready when it has the flavor of rich gravy.  Strain and cool.

When meat is cool enough to handle, pick it apart into thin shreds, discarding any gristle or fat (give it to the dogs).

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and bell peppers.  Sauté until onion is translucent, but not browned.

While the onion is cooking, combine the minced garlic, seasoning and olives.  When onion is soft, reduce heat slightly and add garlic mixture and sauté for another minute or two.

Add 1 1/2 cup of the reserved reduced beef broth, the tomato sauce, cooking wine, olive juice and wine vinegar.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes on high, stirring frequently.   Sauce should start to thicken. 

Add shredded beef and mix well. If you feel it is too thick, add a little more liquid.  As soon as it returns to a boil, cover and turn heat very low.  Simmer for about twenty minutes while you prepare Perfect White Rice

Note:   The leftovers make great fajitas, burritos, tacos or Sloppy Joes!   

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