We often recommend skirt steak for hot and fast grilling but this time of year there’s a lot more braising going on. So can you braise outside skirt steak? Of course, you can! Try our tasty ropa vieja recipe with crispy plantains on the side.
“Ropa vieja” means “old clothes” in Spanish, apparently based on a story of a man so poor that he shredded and cooked his clothes to eat. The dish originated with the Spanish colonials in the Canary Islands and has become a staple throughout the Caribbean, especially in Cuba, where it is the national dish.
Ropa Vieja with Maduros
We’ve used this outside skirt steak – the preferred cut for fajitas – in this slowly braised dish with peppers, onion, tomato, and plenty of aromatics. A classic Cuban recipe, it will fit the bill when you crave tender, tasty comfort food. And the maduros, or fried sweet plantains, are the perfect accompaniment.
Neutral oil, we used avocado oil
2½ pounds Angus Beef Outside Skirt Steak, cleaned and trimmed to 5” wide sections
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
½ cup dry white wine
1 (14-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes with their juice, crushed
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed
2 bay leaves
2 large plantains, completely black, if possible
½ cup pimento-stuffed olives, sliced into thirds
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup chopped cilantro
Rice, for serving
- Preheat oven to 370 degrees F.
- Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the skirt steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the steak, working in batches, until chestnut brown in color, about 3 minutes each side. Transfer to a rimmed plate or bowl and set aside.
- Lower heat to medium. To the pot add onion and bell peppers; sauté until onions are translucent and peppers have softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté about one minute more. Stir in oregano, cumin, paprika, allspice, and cayenne. Add tomato paste and anchovy paste, stirring to coat. Continue to cook about 3-4 minutes then return heat to medium-high and carefully stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pan. Simmer until the raw wine smell is burned off, about 2 minutes, then stir in tomatoes, stock, and bay leaves. Add the skirt steak back to the pot, nestling the pieces in the liquid, along with any accumulated juices. The liquid should come up at least halfway up the meat, if your mixture is short, add a bit more stock.
- Cover and transfer to oven; cook until beef is very tender, about 1½ – 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the plantains: Cut off the ends of plantains, peel, and cut diagonally into 1½-inch pieces. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Carefully place 1 piece of plantain in the oil. If it bubbles vigorously, the oil is ready. If not, wait another minute, and try again. Working in batches, cook plantains, turning once, until beginning to brown, 1–2 minutes per side. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until soft and deeply golden, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; season lightly with salt, if desired, and set aside.
- Remove pot from the oven. Remove bay leaves and discard. Remove beef to a cutting board and using 2 forks, shred into thin strings.
- To the pot add olives and vinegar, taste mixture for seasoning, adding salt and/or pepper, if needed. Stir in shredded beef. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the meat well, if it’s too thin, simmer over medium heat until slightly reduced. Stir in cilantro just before serving with rice and plantains.
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