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Slow Cooker (or not) Ropa Vieja
with roasted zucchini / rice

Active: 45 Total: 425

This tribute to the national dish of Cuba is perfect for the slow cooker (or for cooking low and slow in the oven). The meat turns rich and savory but gets a bright finish with the addition of olives and capers stirred in at the end of cooking.
Smarts: This makes a double batch of meat so you can use the leftovers on Wednesday. If you're making Thursday's meal, make sure to double up on rice tonight, too.
Cooking methods: This recipe includes instructions for using the slow cooker or oven. Select your preferred method.

Tags
Proteins
Cuisines

Ingredients

Metric
Servings:
4
White or Brown Rice:
  • Rice, white or brown - 1 cup
Ropa Vieja (for 2 nights):
  • Onions, medium - 1, thinly sliced
  • Bell peppers, red - 1, thinly sliced
  • Bell peppers, yellow - 1, thinly sliced
  • Garlic - 4 cloves, chopped
  • Oregano, dried - 2 tsp
  • Cumin, ground - 2 tsp
  • Paprika - 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon, ground - 1/8 tsp
  • Allspice, ground (opt) - 1/8 tsp
  • Beef, boneless chuck roast - 2 1/2 lbs
  • Oil, cooking - 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp
  • Stock, any type - 1 cup
  • Tomatoes, crushed (15 oz / 397 g) - 1 can
  • Bay leaves - 2
  • Olives, pitted green - 1 cup, sliced (look for pre-sliced)
  • Capers - 2 Tbsp, drained and rinsed
  • Cilantro leaves (opt) - 3 Tbsp
Roasted Zucchini:
  • Zucchini - 1 lb, sliced
  • Oil, cooking - 2 Tbsp
  • Cumin, ground - 1 tsp
  • Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice - 2 tsp

Nutrition Facts

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Choose Cooking Method

Prep

  1. Rice - (Double if making Thursday’s meal.) For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  2. Onions / Bell peppers / Garlic / Zucchini - Prep as directed. Combine onions and bell peppers in one container. Store garlic and zucchini in their own separate containers. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  3. Make spice blend - Combine oregano, cumin (portion for ropa vieja), paprika, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  4. Beef - Season with some salt and pepper. (Can be done 1 day ahead)

  5. Sear beef and vegetables - Heat first portion of oil (for ropa vieja) in a skillet over medium heat. Add beef and sear on both sides until golden brown, seasoning generously with some salt and pepper as it cooks. This should take 5 to 6 minutes per side. Set beef aside and return pan to heat. Add second portion of oil (for ropa vieja) and then bell peppers and onions. Saute until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (Can be done 1 day ahead)

  6. Slow cook beef - In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine garlic, stock, crushed tomatoes, spice blend, and bay leaves. Top with peppers and onions and then beef, nestling it down inside the sauce. Slow cook until beef is very tender and falling apart, on low for 9 to 10 hours or high for 5 to 6 hours. (Can be done 1 day ahead)

  7. Olives / Capers - Prep as directed and combine. (Can be done 1 day ahead)

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Make

  1. When beef is nearly finished cooking, heat oven to 400F / 204C.

  2. Toss zucchini slices with oil (portion for zucchini), cumin (portion for zucchini), chili powder, and some salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a sheet pan (use two pans if needed).

  3. Bake zucchini, flipping it with a spatula halfway through cooking, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

  4. When beef is done cooking, transfer it to a cutting board. Remove bay leaves from sauce and stir in olives and capers.

  5. Chop or shred beef. Stir beef into sauce until everything is evenly combined. Taste and season with some salt and pepper. Use a slotted spoon to remove half the ropa vieja and reserve it for Wednesday’s meal (leave the cooking liquid in the slow cooker with the rest of the ropa vieja - you’ll want to drizzle it over tonight’s meal).

  6. Squeeze lemon juice over zucchini.

  7. If rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave. (Reserve half if doubled.)

  8. Serve ropa vieja over rice with cooking liquid spooned over top. Top with cilantro leaves (if using). Enjoy zucchini on the side.

Prep

  1. Rice - (Double if making Thursday’s meal.) For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  2. Onions / Bell peppers / Garlic / Zucchini - Prep as directed. Combine onions and bell peppers in one container. Store garlic and zucchini in their own separate containers. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  3. Make spice blend - Combine oregano, cumin (portion for ropa vieja), paprika, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  4. Beef - Season with some salt and pepper. (Can be done 1 day ahead)

  5. Olives / Capers - Prep as directed and combine. (Can be done 1 day ahead)

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Make

  1. Heat oven to 275F / 135C.

  2. While oven is heating, heat first portion of oil (for ropa vieja) in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add beef and sear on both sides until golden brown, seasoning generously with some salt and pepper as it cooks. This should take 5 to 6 minutes per side. Set beef aside and return pan to heat.

  3. Add second portion of oil (for ropa vieja) and then bell peppers and onions. Saute until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. To bell peppers and onions add spice blend and garlic. Saute until fragrant, ~2 minutes.

  5. Add stock, crushed tomatoes, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.

  6. Remove pan from heat and nestle beef in sauce. Cover with a lid and transfer to oven. Roast, covered, until meat is very tender and shreds with a fork, 2 ½ to 3 hours.

  7. When beef is nearly done cooking, heat a skillet with oil (portion for zucchini) over medium heat. Toss zucchini slices with some extra oil and then cumin (portion for zucchini), chili powder, and some salt and pepper. Sear zucchini until very tender, 3 to 5 minutes per side. (Do this in batches if needed.) Set aside, covered, to keep warm.

  8. When beef is done cooking, transfer it to a cutting board. Remove bay leaves from sauce and stir in olives and capers.

  9. Chop or shred beef. Stir beef into sauce until everything is evenly combined. Taste and season with some salt and pepper. Use a slotted spoon to remove half the ropa vieja and reserve it for Wednesday’s meal (leave the cooking liquid in the pot with the rest of the ropa vieja - you’ll want to drizzle it over tonight’s meal).

  10. Squeeze lemon juice over zucchini.

  11. If rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave. (Reserve half if doubled.)

  12. Serve ropa vieja over rice with cooking liquid spooned over top. Top with cilantro leaves (if using). Enjoy zucchini on the side.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
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% Daily Value
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Increase your nutrition smarts


Reviews

Ratings

Original (72)
Gluten-free (3)
Paleo (5)
Vegetarian (11)

Most Helpful

Somehow our 3.5 lb of chuck roast fed us for a week - and we never got tired of it! I think because the shredded meat is mixed with so many other ingredients, it gets extended into a bajillion servings, which in my book is an extremely excellent quality in a recipe!

By: MEGAN
Posted: Mar 18, 2022
Diet: Gluten-free
1 Helpful

34 reviews

Very good!!

By: Kimberly
Posted: May 14, 2022
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

Very good but not a weeknight meal

By: Sabrina
Posted: Apr 27, 2022
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

We did not like this at all. Ended up tossing the rest and did not make the quesadillas. Rare miss for us.

By: Julie
Posted: Apr 05, 2022
Diet: Vegetarian
0 Helpful

Used pressure cooker instead of slow cooker. Did 35 minutes, and then needed an extra 10. The meat was half out of the sauce so it didn't pick up the flavors much. Used Beyond meat I think for mine

By: Steven
Posted: Mar 22, 2022
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

Somehow our 3.5 lb of chuck roast fed us for a week - and we never got tired of it! I think because the shredded meat is mixed with so many other ingredients, it gets extended into a bajillion servings, which in my book is an extremely excellent quality in a recipe!

By: MEGAN
Posted: Mar 18, 2022
Diet: Gluten-free
1 Helpful

We really enjoyed this and found it easy to make in the crock pot. Ended up freezing some leftovers that will likely be used in a meat bowl later.

By: Renee
Posted: Mar 09, 2022
Diet: Original
0 Helpful