Ropa Vieja

I am not Cuban or Hispanic. I can barely say a convincing “Hola”. But I love me some Hispanic foods. Many moons ago, when I was first trying to figure out all my medical issues, I did what I then thought was the most restrictive, asinine diet ever. Mostly, I gave up grains and sugar and dairy and artificial stuff. This was back before Whole 30 revolutionized the world with all of it’s brilliant recipes and useful tools and stuff. It was my best friend, a beautiful Puerto Rican and amazing cook, who stepped in when I was literally ready to poke my eyeballs out if I ate one more chicken breast or smelled broccoli again. She introduced me to my most beloved ingredient- Yucca- which gave me my first full and satisfied stomach in weeks. She also walked me through a whole host of flavors that didn’t include the southern categories of yummy- Fried, Topped with Cheese and Bacon, Breaded, or Casseroled.

This is not a traditional Ropas Viejas. Hell, I can’t even pronounce that right. So, who am I to claim I’m making it right? I can verify that it is delicious and that it can be made in an InstantPot, a Crock Pot, or (my favorite) a Dutch Oven and I’ll explain how to do it for each.


Ropas Viejas


  • 4-5 lbs Chuck Roast, Lamb Roast, Leg of Lamb, or Flank Steak*

  • 2 T Avocado Oil, Olive Oil or Butter

  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped

  • 5-6 cloves garlic (you can use the pre-peeled cloves), pressed with a garlic press or chopped

  • 1 large pepper such as a serrano or poblano, or 2 small peppers such as Jalapeno**, chopped

  • 2 Plum Tomatoes or 1 larger tomato

  • 3 Bay Leaves

  • 1/2- 1 T whole Peppercorns, depending on how much you like pepper

  • 3/4 tsp Sea salt or Himalayan salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 Fresh Lime to squeeze on top

  • Fresh Cilantro, chopped for topping


Dutch oven: Heat 1/2 the oil or butter in pot. Place the meat in the dutch oven and sear on both sides. It is fine to cut it in smaller pieces as needed. Add the Bay Leaves, Salt, Peppercorns, and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 4-5 hours

InstantPot: Press the Saute button and add the 1/2 the oil or butter. Sear the meat on both sides. It is fines to cut the meat in pieces and sear in batches if space is limited. Return the meat to the pot. Add the Bay Leaves, Salt, Peppercorns, and enough water to cover the meat. . Replace the lid and be sure the valve is closed. Press the Meat button. Cook for 40 min.

Crock Pot: Heat Oil or butter in pan. Place the meat in the pan and sear on both sides. It is fine to cut it in smaller pieces as needed. Move the seared meat to the Crock Pot. Add the Bay Leaves, Salt, Peppercorns, and enough water to cover the meat. Cover and set to Low for 7-8 hours or High for 4-5 hours.

The Meat should easily pull apart with a fork before proceeding to the next step.

Remove the meat to a plate. Reserve about 1.5 C of the broth for the next step. Pour the remaining broth into a Mason Jar and store in the fridge for up to a week. It is delicious to sip or use in other dishes. You can read more about BONE BROTH HERE.

In a skillet, heat the rest of the oil or butter. Add the chopped onion, pepper, and garlic. Saute until the onion begins to become translucent. Place the meat in the skillet and shred it using two forks. Add about 3/4 C broth to the skillet and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the cilantro and tomato.

You can add the tomato and simmer a remaining 5 minutes or use it as a topping when serving. To serve squeeze the lime over the whole thing and sprinkle on cilantro.***

*I have never used Flank Steak but I have read that it is the traditional meat for this. I like to use a cut that has bones in it to reserve the leftover broth for bone broth. My butcher cuts my chuck roast with the bone. So , I often use that. Lamb is my most favorite to use, however.

**I have made this with all manner of peppers, including green bell pepper and it is always good. My favorite is probably poblano.

***This meal will happily sit in a warm oven (170*) for up to an hour and a half. That means you can make it for a dinner party or weeknight and put it in the warm oven while you run your kids to dance, get in a workout, do homework, and sip cocktails with guests.

****My very favorite way to eat this is on top of Mashed Yucca or with Yucca Fries. My husband loves it over rice.

I gave some to a friend recently. She sent me this picture….