{In case you're wondering, that means "Everyone to the table to eat!" in Italian}

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ropa Vieja & Sofrito

A while back I started watching the new PBS channel Create late at night, when lots of cooking shows are on. The lady who makes this, Daisy Martinez, is a riot. The catch phrase of her show and cookbook, Daisy Cooks, is "Latin flavors that will rock your world". She is lots of fun to watch, and at least this dish really does rock our world. It is so good, we've decided we don't need any other way to cook a roast. The name of the dish, by the way, means "old clothes", which references the falling-apart tenderness of the meat, NOT the way it tastes!
Ropa Vieja
One 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 lb. chuck roast
Salt & pepper
Onion powder
3 tb. canola oil
1/2 c. sofrito (see recipe below)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Two 8 oz. cans spanish-style tomato sauce (I used regular)
1 1/2 c. water
3 tb. chopped green olives w/ pimentos (I hate green olives, so I left these out)
2 bay leaves
4 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 c. fresh or frozen peas (we hate peas so I leave these out & up the other veggies)
Pound roast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap with meat mallet until 1/2" thick (I only got it down to about 1" thick, and it turned out great, the idea is to tenderize it). Season both sides generously with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Heat oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet. Add roast and brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, stir in sofrito and cumin. Stir in tomato sauce, water, chopped olives, and bay leaves. Cover (if your lid isn't ovenproof use foil) and put in oven. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender. Remove from oven and take meat out of pan to cool enough to handle. Remove bay leaves. Add celery and carrots to pan, place over medium heat on stove, and bring to simmer. Shred meat and add back to pot. Stir in peas after 15 minutes, cook about 5 minutes more, adding water if drying out. Serve and enjoy!
2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers
16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bunch cilantro, washed
7 to 10 ajices dulces (see note below), optional
4 leaves of culantro (see note below), or another handful cilantro
3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
Chop the onion and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes beautifully. Freeze sofrito in ½ cup batches in sealable plastic bags. They come in extremely handy in a pinch. You can even add sofrito straight from the freezer to the pan in any recipe that calls for it.
Makes about 4 cups.
*If you can't find ajices dulces or culantro, don't sweat. Up the amount of cilantro to 1 ½ bunches. I did this and also used regular onions and Anaheim peppers instead of the Italian ones.

1 comment:

The Matthews Family said...

We made this last Sunday, and even with fudging up the recipe a little, it still turned out great. Thanks for the recipe!