Ropa Vieja Stew, Non-Traditional 

( ROH-pah VYAY-hah) translates something like, “old clothes”  in Spanish, but don’t be fooled. This traditional warm weather dish will wrap around you like a nice cozy brand new shawl. You’ll even wanna eat this on a spring or summer evening when the night breeze picks up.

I serve my Ropa over a sweet potato–which is completely sacreligious. Shhhh! 


4 strips nitrate free bacon cut into 1 in chunks 

8 pounds of flank steak cut into 6 to 8 pieces

2 large yellow onions, chopped medium dice

3 poblano chilies, chopped  

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons of tomato paste

1/3 cup masa harina 

1 bottle good brown stout beer

2 cups low sodium beef stock 

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 cups green Spanish olives ( stuffed w pimento) 

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced

2 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon ground white pepper 

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Kosher Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste 

1 bunch of scallions, chopped for garnish

1 sweet potato, per person, baked


Preheat oven to 375’F

In a large 8 quart Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot, cook the bacon until crisp. With a slotted spoon remove bacon and transfer to a paper towel. Set aside.

Turn the heat to medium. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Sear the beef in the bacon drippings until brown and caramelized on both sides. About 3-5 minutes each side. Remove and set-aside.

Lower heat, and sauté the onions and chilies for five minutes until they begin to brown.  

Stir in garlic and the tomato paste. Cook an additional two minutes.

Add the masa harina & cook an additional minute.

Add beer, and simmer until evaporated- scraping any bits from the bottom ( chefs call this deglazing the pan).

Add the beef stock. Bring to a boil. Return the beef to the pot and cover.

Place the pot in the preheated over and braise until fork tender, about an hour.

Remove from the oven. Uncover and remove the steak from pot. Place the meat on a clean cutting board and using two forks, shred the meat into strings. Once all the meat is shredded, return to the pot. Add the cooked bacon, the black beans, the olives and all the spices.

Simmer for additional 5-8 minutes and re-adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

To serve

With an ice cream scoop- portion one or two scoops of the spicy sweet potato mash into each individual serving bowl. Top with stew, sprinkle with chopped scallions. Serve piping hot with warm tortillas.


Variations that are usually not used with this dish.  

Add grilled corn.
Top with shredded cheese and melt under the broiler before serving.
Serve piping hot with cool avocado and sour cream on the side. 
Top with Pico de Gallo.
Serve with rice or egg noddles instead of root vegetables.
Makes approximately 10-12 servings 


Published by Chef Gigi Gaggero, Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

Professional Chef, Two Time Award-Winning Book Author, Former Academic Director from Le Cordon Bleu, and Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

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