Discovering local restaurants and sampling national and regional specialties are at the heart of the love of travel for most of our travellers.
Cuba has never been a destination famed for its cuisine but that is changing quickly as private restaurants flourish under the new, relaxed economic reforms and access to ingredients at reasonable prices has become the new reality.
One dish you are sure to encounter in Cuba is Ropa Vieja. Named “old clothes” due to its ragged look, the exact origin of this meal is a bit of a mystery.
Ropa vieja is believed to have its origins in the Sephardi Jewish community of Spain in the 12th century and evolved in the Canary Islands and finally in Cuba, where it is one of the national dishes. Variations of the dish occur throughout the Caribbean, especially in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Accompaniments can vary, but can include black beans, fried plantains, white rice, and sometimes arepitas (a flatbread).
2 lb. flank steak, cut into 1 ½″ strips
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 (16-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
6 oz. tomato paste
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. dried thyme
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups beef stock
½ cup halved, pitted green olives
⅓ cup sliced jarred pimiento peppers
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
Season steak with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes; transfer to plate. Add onion and peppers; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste, cumin, thyme, oregano, garlic, and bay leaf; cook until lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add wine; cook, scraping bottom of pot, for 1 minute. Return steak to pot with stock and tomatoes; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until steak is very tender, 2–3 hours. Remove steak, and shred; return meat to pot with olives, pimientos, and vinegar. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in cilantro before serving.