This course is a Cuban classic. My version's a bit different from Grandma's. Why? Because I am incapable of following recipes and have a compulsion with adding my spin to everything. Actually, I've been playing with this course for years.
Braising is magic. The cook skilled in the dark art of the braise, takes disparate ingredients, and weaves them into an elevated culinary experience. Braising is Holism, where the properties of a flavor profile cannot be explained by its component parts. In its place, it must be viewed as a balanced complete system that determines how the ingredients come together. Braising is unquestionably my favorite cooking method.
Flank steak slowly cooks in a warm spa of Voyager Estate Shiraz, organic homemade reduced beef stock, and sofrito water. Note: Only cook with wine you would actually drink. If you would not serve it to your guests, don't put it in the food.
Ripe plantains and Boniato (Cuban sweet potato) offer the desired sweetness balance, whilst providing a starchy natural thickener for the sauce.
Instead of serving it over white rice, I like to serve it over risoni or orzo.
Ropa Vieja con Risoni
For the Sofrito Water:
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves - peeled & degermed
- 1 leek (white & light green parts only) - sliced
- 2 tbs chipotle sauce
- pinch of sea salt
- In a food processor, add ingredients. Pulse until liquified. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Should have 1 cup of liquid.
- 2.5 lb flank steak - finished weight after trimming
- 2 tbs grapeseed oil
- 1 tbs butter - unsalted
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Ground coriander
- 6 strips bacon - cut into lardons
- 1 yellow onion - sliced thin on a mandoline
- 1 green pepper - seeded & diced
- 1 cup boniato - peeled & diced
- 2 ripe plantains - peeled & diced
- 1 cup mango - diced
- 2 cups Voyager Estate Shiraz
- 1 cup reduced beef stock
- 1 cup sofrito water
- 2 tbs champagne vinegar
- coarse sea salt
- 1 tbs ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- cane sugar
- Fresh oregano
- Remove the steak from the fridge. Pat day with paper towels. Season both sides liberally with sea salt, ground coriander and black pepper. Place on a wire rack at room temp for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 275 F.
- In a Dutch oven, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the butter. When the butter foams, lay the steak in the Dutch oven. Sear for 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the wire rack to rest.
- Pour off the fat from the pot. Leaving the browned bits behind. Add bacon and render over medium heat until crisp. Add the onion and green bell peppers. Season with coarse sea salt. Cook for 8 minutes. Stirring constantly to avoid sticking or burning.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine. Take care to scrape all browned bits off the pan. Brown bits are flavor. Add the sofrito water and beef stock.
- Add the plantain, boniato and mango. Mix well to incorporate. Season with ground cumin, dried oregano, pinch of course sea salt, pinch of cane sugar. Add the champagne vinegar.
- Return the steak to the pot.
- Cover and braise in oven for 4.5 hours.
- The meat should be incredibly tender. Easily shred apart with forks before serving.
- Finish the Ropa Vieja with fresh oregano and chives. Garnish with chiptole mayo and edible flowers.