This Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe is often served as the centerpiece of a meal, accompanied by fluffy white rice, velvety black beans, and perhaps some sweet plantains or crispy fried yuca on the side. The combination of flavors and textures creates a satisfying and comforting dining experience, reminiscent of home-cooked meals shared with loved ones.
Ropa Vieja is a culinary treasure hailing from the vibrant and diverse cuisines of Latin America. With its origins deeply rooted in Cuban culture, this traditional dish has captivated taste buds around the world. The name itself, "ropa vieja," evokes curiosity and intrigue, as it translates to "old clothes" in English. But don't let the name fool you; this dish is far from ordinary.
At its heart, Ropa Vieja is a shredded beef stew that combines tender and succulent strands of slow-cooked meat with a symphony of aromatic vegetables and spices. The result is a dish that not only satisfies the appetite but also tells a story through its flavors and textures.
- What is Ropa Vieja?
- Why is Ropa Vieja so great?
- Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe Ingredients
- How to make Instant Pot Ropa Vieja
- What to serve with Instant Pot Ropa Vieja
- Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe Variations
- How to store Ropa Vieja
- Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe Top tips
- Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe
- Food safety
What is Ropa Vieja?
Ropa Vieja is a traditional dish from the cuisine of Cuba, although it is also popular in other Latin American countries such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The name "ropa vieja" translates to "old clothes" in English, which is derived from the shredded and stewed appearance of the dish, resembling tattered clothing.
Ropa Vieja is known for its rich and savory taste, often enhanced by the addition of spices such as cumin, oregano, and bay leaves. It is typically served with white rice and black beans, along with plantains or fried yuca as popular side dishes. Ropa Vieja is a beloved comfort food in Latin American cuisine and is cherished for its hearty and flavorful nature.
Why is Ropa Vieja so great?
- Rich and Robust Flavors: Ropa Vieja is known for its rich, savory, and robust flavors. The slow cooking process allows the meat to become tender and infuse with the aromatic vegetables and spices, resulting in a dish that is incredibly satisfying and full of depth.
- Versatility: Ropa Vieja is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. It can be served as a main course with rice and beans, used as a filling for tacos or sandwiches, or even incorporated into other recipes like empanadas or quesadillas. Its versatility allows for creativity and adaptation to personal preferences.
- Comfort Food: Ropa Vieja is the epitome of comfort food. It has a nostalgic and comforting quality that evokes feelings of home and warmth. The tender shredded beef, flavorful sauce, and hearty accompaniments create a meal that is both comforting and satisfying.
- Cultural Significance: Ropa Vieja is deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of Latin America, particularly Cuba. It is a dish that carries cultural significance and represents the heritage and history of the region.
Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Flank Steak or Beef Round Bottom
- Olive oil
- Red bell pepper
- White wine
- Beef broth
- Tomato sauce
- Sherry vinegar
- Ground Cumin
- Bay leaves
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Instant Pot Ropa Vieja
Start by hitting the sauté button for 8 minutes, add oil and wait for it to shimmer. Toss in the onions and bell peppers and toss for 4-6 minutes, until soft.
Stir in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the beef, white wine, vinegar and toss for 2 minutes. Add the beef broth.
Sprinkle in the paprika, oregano, ground cumin, pepper, salt, 2 bay leaves and stir well.
Pressure cook on high for 60 minutes.
With tongs, remove the meat and place into a large bowl.
Add the olives and cilantro and toss. There is enough salt in the olives but you can salt to taste.
Hint: Use two forks to shred the beef. Another trick is to use a Kitchenaid mixer using the whisk attachment.
What to serve with Instant Pot Ropa Vieja
- Rice: Serve the Ropa Vieja over a bed of fluffy white rice. The rice acts as a neutral base that absorbs the savory sauce and enhances the overall meal.
- Beans: Black beans or red beans are classic choices to serve alongside Ropa Vieja. You can cook the beans separately and serve them as a side dish or mix them directly into the stew for added richness and texture. Check out my Instant Pot Black Beans Recipe for a great addition.
- Tostones: Savory tostones are a fantastic addition to the meal. You can slice them and fry them until they are golden and caramelized for a delicious side dish that contrasts the savory flavors of the Ropa Vieja.
- Yuca: Another starchy side dish option is yuca, also known as cassava. Boil or fry yuca until tender, then serve it alongside the Ropa Vieja. It adds a unique texture and taste to the meal.
- Chuck roast: You will need a tough meat for this recipe that can be simmered for a long period of time. You can use other tough meats can be chuck eye, shoulder roast, shoulder steak, or another lean cut beef like top round roast or bottom round roast. All work perfectly fine for this recipe.
- Olive oil: You can use olive oil although vegetable oil works just as well.
- Onion: I used a white onion but you can use a red or yellow onion as well.
- Tomatoes: You can use fresh blended tomatoes or canned tomato sauce. I would also used diced tomatoes in a can if you have that too.
Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe Variations
- Spicy Ropa Vieja: If you enjoy a bit of heat, add some diced jalapeños or crushed red pepper flakes to the recipe. This will give your Ropa Vieja a spicy kick that pairs well with the rich flavors of the dish.
- Smoky Ropa Vieja: To add a smoky flavor to the dish, you can include some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Finely chop a few peppers and add them, along with some of the adobo sauce, to the Instant Pot when cooking. The smoky and slightly sweet flavor of chipotle will elevate the dish.
- Wine-infused Ropa Vieja: For a touch of sophistication, consider adding a splash of red wine to the recipe. After sautéing the vegetables, deglaze the pot with about half a cup of red wine and let it cook for a minute or two to allow the alcohol to evaporate. The wine will impart a subtle richness and depth to the flavors.
You can always use the leftover meat to make Birria Tacos - just skip to step 3.
To make Instant Pot Ropa Vieja, you'll need the following equipment:
- Instant Pot: The Instant Pot is a multi-functional electric pressure cooker that allows you to cook meals quickly and efficiently. It has different settings for pressure cooking, sautéing, and slow cooking, which are all useful for preparing Ropa Vieja. I love using my Instant Pot for this recipe.
- Cutting Board and Knife: A cutting board and a sharp knife will be needed to chop the vegetables, such as onions, bell peppers, and garlic, that are essential for the dish.
- Measuring Utensils: You'll need measuring spoons and cups to accurately measure the spices, broth, and other ingredients required in the recipe.
- Wooden Spoon or Silicone Spatula: A wooden spoon or a silicone spatula will come in handy for stirring the ingredients and scraping the bottom of the Instant Pot to prevent sticking.
- Tongs or Forks: Tongs or forks are useful for handling the beef when searing or shredding it.
- Serving Platter or Bowls: You'll need a serving platter or individual bowls to present and serve the Ropa Vieja.
How to store Ropa Vieja
To store Ropa Vieja properly, follow these steps:
- Allow the Ropa Vieja to cool: After cooking, let the Ropa Vieja cool down to room temperature before storing it. This helps prevent condensation and ensures that the dish cools uniformly.
- Separate into individual portions: If you anticipate having leftovers, divide the Ropa Vieja into individual portions using airtight containers or resealable freezer bags. This makes it easier to store and reheat the desired amount without affecting the entire batch.
- Store in the refrigerator: Place the containers or bags of Ropa Vieja in the refrigerator. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. Make sure the containers are sealed tightly to prevent any odors from permeating the dish or any bacteria from entering.
- Freeze for longer storage: If you wish to store the Ropa Vieja for a longer period, you can freeze it. Transfer the portions of Ropa Vieja into freezer-safe containers or bags, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 to 3 months.
- Thawing and reheating: When you're ready to enjoy the stored Ropa Vieja, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator if frozen. Reheat it either on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave, adding a splash of water or broth to prevent it from drying out. Stir occasionally until it's heated through.
Instant Pot Ropa Vieja Recipe Top tips
- Sear the beef: Before pressure cooking, take the time to sear the beef in the Instant Pot using the sauté function. This step helps develop rich flavors and adds a lovely brown crust to the meat.
- Layer the ingredients properly: Layer the ingredients in the Instant Pot strategically. Start with the seared beef at the bottom, followed by the vegetables and spices. This ensures even distribution of flavors and prevents the ingredients from sticking to the pot.
- Use low-sodium broth: If using store-bought broth, opt for low-sodium or unsalted varieties. This allows you to have better control over the saltiness of the final dish since other seasonings already contain salt.
- Let it rest: Once the Instant Pot cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 10-15 minutes before performing a quick release. This resting time allows the flavors to meld together and ensures tender, juicy meat.
- Shred the beef properly: When shredding the beef, use two forks or meat claws to pull it apart. This technique helps create those classic "ropa vieja" thread-like strands and allows the meat to absorb more of the delicious sauce.
- Reduce the sauce: After removing the shredded beef, switch the Instant Pot to the sauté function and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes. This helps thicken the sauce and intensify the flavors before serving.
- Adjust seasoning at the end: Taste the sauce before serving and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can add more salt, pepper, or any other spices to achieve the desired flavor profile.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove