Spicy Ropa Vieja

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil, preferably a fruity oil
1/2 of one large sweet onion, sliced into 3 inch lengths about 1/2 inch thick
1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and sliced as you did the onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped or smashed
1 1/2 T tomato paste
3/4 t cumin
3/4 t Mexican oregano (please do not use Mediterranean oregano)
Ground black pepper, at least 1/4 teaspoon
1 good splash of white wine
1 T soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1 large whole jalapeno, rinsed and dried
1 lb flank steak cut across the grain into four pieces
Several red jalapenos, left whole, rinsed and dried
1/2 t white vinegar

Spoon Mage™ Note:

This is my take on a delicious cookscountry.com slow cooker version of this Cuban meal.

Directions:

Prep the onion and bell pepper. Place in a small bowl. Chop the garlic and place it in a small bowl. Set out the tube of tomato paste (I love Cento’s). Combine the cumin, Mexican oregano, and ground black pepper inside a small bowl. In another bowl, mix the wine and soy sauce. Set out the bay leaf and rinse and dry the jalapeno – do not cut off the stem. Slice the flank steak into four pieces across the grain. Don’t make long slices, your pieces should be short. The vinegar and red jalapenos come in later so you can wait to prep them.

Set a large tall sided skillet or a pot over medium heat. When the pan is very hot, add the oil. Wait 30 seconds.

Add the onion and bell pepper slices, stirring every now and then until the onions are softened.

Add the garlic, stir constantly for one minute.

Squish in the tomato paste, dump in the dry seasonings and stir for about 30 seconds to a minute. Don’t stop or the paste could burn.

If you can’t stand stirring all that time, proceed to adding in the liquid seasonings and bay leaf. Stir it all well and bring to a simmer. There won’t be a lot of liquid, the meat and veggies will handle that part of the dish.

Add the prepped flank steak. Stir a bit.

Add the whole jalapeno, placing it down the side of the pot so it touches the liquid.

Bring to a low simmer, cover, and let it go for 2 1/2 hours. Stir every half hour. One reason to stir so frequently is to make sure the liquid doesn’t boil. For tender meat, the braise needs to be on a low simmer.

Pull the meat out of the skillet, place it on a cutting board with edges, and, using two forks, shred the now tender meat. Return that and the accumulated juices to the skillet.

If your jalapeno is largely incorporated into the meat, remove the floating stem.

Stir well and then add the whole red jalapenos. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. These jalapenos are added later as garnish so that they need to remain whole.

Mix in the white vinegar. If you were a little heavy handed with the wine, you might want to remove the lid and let the liquid reduce a little. Don’t reduce it to dry, you want some liquid to soak in with the rice.

Serve with a side of rice, the meat topped by one of the red peppers

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