Ropa Vieja


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Slow Cook Modern

Slow Cook Modern

By Liana Krissoff

Published 2017

  • About

Use long-grained flank steak (cut to fit your skillet and slow cooker, if necessary) and you’ll achieve the most beautiful mess of “old rags” you’ve ever seen, but a thick chuck roast or any other lesser cut of meat will work fine too.

This is a dish in which browning the meat isn’t strictly necessary, but if you have a bit of extra time in the morning it’ll add another level of flavor: Season the flank steak and brown it in a skillet in a little oil for about 5 minutes total, put it in the slow cooker, and deglaze the skillet with the wine, scraping up any browned bits and pouring the liquid over the steak.


  • 1 (2- to 2½-pound/910 g- to 1.2-kg) flank steak
  • 1 teaspoon ground achiote (annatto), or 1 teaspoon sweet paprika plus ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) wine (red or white) or water
  • 1 (14.5-ounce/411-g) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 carrot, cut into sticks ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips ½ inch (12 mm) wide
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers in brine, or ¼ cup (30 g) drained pickled jalapeño chile slices



Put the steak in the slow cooker, sprinkle it all over with the achiote, cumin, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grindings of black pepper, and nestle it into the bottom of the pot, folding it over on itself if necessary.

Add the onion and garlic, the wine, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, and a good pinch of salt, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours.

Morning or Evening

Put the oil in a sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the carrot and bell pepper and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate if doing this in the morning.


Turn the cooker to high. Using tongs, remove the steak from the cooking liquid and put it in a baking dish. Shred the meat into long strands by holding the far end with the tongs and drawing a fork toward you along the meat with the grain to tear it; repeat until it looks like a mass of torn rags. Return it to the slow cooker, along with the sautéed bell pepper and carrot, season with salt to taste, and heat through. Sprinkle the capers over the shredded steak and sauce. Serve.