It’s a well-known fact that I love cooking and eating as much as I love writing. FAMISHED: THE FARM wouldn’t be half the story it is without an understanding of scents, tastes, and textures that come through cooking. And who doesn’t like coming to a horror blog to see red meat on the table?

I used to order ropa vieja at Cafe 28 in Chicago on a regular basis, but since moving to a more rural community, my Latin American cravings have to be fed by tacos and fajitas alone. So this weekend I tried making one of my favorite Cuban dishes for the first time. Ropa vieja means “old clothes,” since the final result looks remarkably like shredded clothes straight out of the wash. This recipe was adapted from Food & Wine magazine’s “Best slow cooker recipes.”


  1. One 2-pound flank steak, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 4 pieces
  2. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. Two cans fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilis
  4. 1/2 cup water
  5. 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  6. 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  7. 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  8. 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  9. 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
  10. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  12. 1 bay leaf
  13. 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  14. 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  15. 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

1. Tenderize the flank steak and season with salt and pepper. Slice as instructed above.

2. In the slow cooker, arrange the next 10 ingredients, and place the flank steak on top.
Push the steak under slightly to allow full saturation of the meat.
Cover, and cook on high for at least 5 hours.

3.Transfer the meat to a cutting board, rest for 10 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining olives, capers and 1 tablespoon cilantro.

4. Shred the meat using two forks into the distinctive texture of ropa vieja.
Return to the sauce to warm through thoroughly.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
Spoon meat and sauce into bowls over white rice or warmed tortillas.


This made enough to feed two people for about three meals each (so far). I served it alongside sauteed garlic poblanos over moros y cristianos to soak up the delicious sauce, and with a crunchy cucumber-celery salad on the side to add a vinegar tang to an otherwise rather sweet meal. I did omit the red pepper in the salad, since we had MORE than enough in the main and side dishes.