A Taste of CubaA Taste of Cuba

A TASTE OF CUBA

Havana, Cuba

In this series your taste buds are taking a tour of the world while you’re stuck at home sat in your pants.

This week we’re hitting up the rainbow streets of Cuba for a comforting swirl of rich beef and veggies. Because we all need a food hug right about now.

You’ll be cooking ropa vieja - Cuba’s national dish.

The History

This is the story of one poor man and his miscalculated decision to shred and cook his clothes. Introducing the original bad day...

Jokes, but that is how the legend goes. Apparently he let this weird stringy clothes concoction bubble away and as he prayed it would turn to meat… wanna pray for some vino to go with it too?

The true story of this dish is only slightly less complicated than the legend. Although these days ropa vieja is known as Cuba's national dish, obvs it's not quite that simple. What actually happened was the Spanish conquistadors brought it with them when they set out to conquer Latin America.

Loadsa Spanish arrivals from the Canary Islands landed in Cuba and settled here. They carried on cooking ropa vieja in their new digs and passed the tradition on. But things get even more messy when you realise that colonizers also hit up other parts of the Caribbean. So you can find variations of ropa vieja in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but these guys never went as far as making it their national dish.

The Recipe

Normally this dish uses flank steak - the fact that it’s lean and long makes it perfectly shreddable. If you don’t have it sub for another kind of beef.

You can serve this guy with fried sweet plantain (props if you can get this) if not black beans or even little roasty potatoes work.

You'll need:

• 3 pounds of chuck roast, brisket, or flank steak
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 large onions
• 2 red peppers
• Salt
• Pepper
• 8 garlic cloves
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 4 tsp paprika
• 1 tbsp oregano
• 2 tsp cumin
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 can of plum tomatoes
• Handful Spanish olives

Method

1) Get a large pan on the go with some oil and add beef, browning on all sides then removing.

2) Next you’ll want to let your onion, peppers, and salt hang out in the pan and brown too. While this is happening (will take about 12 mins) preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

3) Once your veggies have a mahogany tan, toss in the garlic then stir in wine. Cook until it’s evaporated. Like magic.

4) Then sprinkle in paprika, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne. Veg should be nice and coated. Add tomatoes and mash with the back of a spoon.

5) Bring this spiced tomato veg mix to the boil and continue to cook until the liquid reduces by half. Now you pop your meat back in and place the whole thing in that pre-heated oven (covered).

6) Take out after 3 hours and use a fork to shred beef. Stir in olives and plate that bad boy up...

Our Restaurant Pick

Ropa vieja in Havana? You’ll want the big D…

Dona Eutimia is an old-school cuban restaurant where you’ll be rubbing shoulders with locals and in-the-know tourists.

The restaurant is a charming shrine to food, with twinkling fairy lights and hanging vines bringing rustic boho vibes. The presentation is simple, but these guys are known for a ropa vieja that packs a flavour punch.

Look no further.

This one’s a keeper - hit the Lucky button then save this trip for a happier time 💚 Psst! Cuba was quarantine-free at the time of writing.