Cooking with Ceci: Bring a taste of Cuba to your kitchen

Create a classic Cuban dish with Ropa Veja. (Photo by Ceci Martinez)

Create a classic Cuban dish with Ropa Veja.
(Photo by Ceci Martinez)

Commentary by Ceci Martinez

The wonderful aroma of this classic Cuban dish will have your neighbors knocking on your door! Ropa Vieja which literally means “old clothes,” actually originates from the Canary Islands dating back 500 years. The Spanish conquistadores brought Ropa Vieja not only to Cuba but to other islands in the Caribbean as well as to Central and South America.  It is the perfect recipe for the croc pot or slow cooker as the spices blend beautifully with the meat and vegetables to create an unforgettable Caribbean dish!

Note: For a more authentic Cuban dinner listen to the wonderful music of Buena Vista Group.


Serves: 6


1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes

4 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt

1 1/2 pound steak – skirt or for a leaner cut use flank steak (London broil)

2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), sliced 1/2 inch thick

4 carrots, sliced

2 celery stalk, sliced

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 small onion, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives


In a 5-6 quart slow cooker pot, combine tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt. With paper napkins, pad dry meat, season with Kosher salt, pepper and cumin. Sear meat for 2 min on each side in hot cooking pan or grill. Remove from pan, cut into 5 strips and add to slow cooker pot. Add vegetables. Cover pot with lid and cook for 8 hours in low-medium heat. Remove meat from pot, shred meat with two forks and return to pot, add parsley, mix well. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. Serve Ropa Vieja with white rice and sprinkle green olives. Black beans and sweet plantains add the final touch.


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