Crock Pot Ropa Vieja (Beef Stew With Peppers and Onions)

close up of Ropa Vieja on a plate

Sarah Bossert / E+ / Getty Images

Total Time: 270 min
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 240 min
Servings: 4

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

542 calories
16g fat
23g carbs
75g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving  
Calories 542
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 212mg 71%
Sodium 335mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Total Sugars 13g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 75g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 121mg 9%
Iron 10mg 56%
Potassium 1592mg 34%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Ropa vieja is a treasured Cuban dish of meat and tomatoes. In Spanish, ropa vieja translates to "old clothes" and the dish is so named because after cooking, the shredded beef and vegetables resemble a pile of torn clothes.

Chock-full of vegetables and tomatoes, this ropa vieja recipe is a nutritional powerhouse offering protein as well as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, current research shows that the occasional serving of red meat is good for you and does not increase the risk of heart disease in healthy individuals.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chuck roast, cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, chopped (red or yellow onion)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce can) tomatoes, chopped (low-sodium)
  • 2 medium green peppers, chopped
  • 2 medium red peppers, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste (low-sodium)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp beef broth (or 3 low-sodium beef bouillon cubes)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown it in a pan on the stovetop.

  2. Layer onion and celery on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the browned meat on top.

  3. Drain the tomatoes reserving the juice. Layer tomatoes and peppers over the meat, along with the bay leaves.

  4. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the rest of the ingredients together (including the reserved tomato juice) and pour over the meat and vegetables.

  5. Cook 2 to 3 hours on high or 5 to 7 hours on low.

Variations and Substitutions

Traditionally, the cut of meat used in ropa vieja is flank steak, which has not only become expensive but also doesn't have enough fat to slow cook properly without drying out. So this version calls for chuck beef—a cut that has a bit more fat and benefits from a long braising time—and is left alone (versus shredding) to be more like a stew.

If you would like to make this dish similar to the traditionally shredded beef ropa vieja but don't want to use flank steak, ask your butcher to cut a piece of chuck that is taller than it is wide, where the grains run vertically. Then once the dish is finished cooking, shred the meat with two forks (or wait for it to cool and use your hands).

Cooking and Serving Tips

One of the best things about ropa vieja is that it "keeps on giving"—it is even better the next day, and the leftover meat can be shredded and added along with the vegetables to tortillas (a little avocado and cilantro complement nicely). It is one of those dishes where you can add almost any vegetable and it will taste delicious. For example:

  • Consider adding carrots along with the celery.
  • Toward the end of cooking time toss in green olives, capers, and fresh parsley.
  • Serve over spaghetti squash for an alternative "pasta" dish.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wyness L. The role of red meat in the diet: Nutrition and health benefitsProc Nutr Soc. 2016;75(3):227-232. doi:10.1017/S0029665115004267