Bienvenidos A Miami

Ocean Avenue, South Beach: It really does look like this
When I lived in Miami (a mere two years ago) I took it upon myself to eat my way through the city and its surrounding areas. Fortunately, I had time, money, and resources to embark on such an arduous task.

I came back to NC because I promised my family I would. If it weren't for family loyalty, I'd still be there basking in the glow of an equitorial sun, buying plantains, while jamming to reggaeton.

Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties were very good to me. Now that I'm back home in NC, I don't find myself eating though the city of Winston-Salem at an unsettling rate. I used to eat and chronicle my adventures in my now defunct LiveJournal (Good food was apparently one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent persperation). I have not been compelled to add Winston-Salem food to my memoirs. When I do go out, I either receive piss-poor service or seriously unpleasant food. Nine out of 10 times, I am disappointed with some aspect of my meal.

All that said, this post is my ode to my favorite Cuban recipe. Fidel is no more but this recipe will live on:
Ropa Vieja (what most are probably wearing in Cuba right now)
Ropa vieja means old clothes in Spanish. This meat is cooked, shredded like rags, then cooked again.

2 lbs skirt or flank steak
3 12oz. bottles of dark beer
1 carrot, sliced
2 medium onions, chopped roughly
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 serrano chiles, minced
2 green bell peppers, diced
8 oz cup fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (canned is fine)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Quarter one of the two onions. Put in a 6 quart kettle with flank steak, carrot, celery and bay leaf. Cover with dark beer by 2 inches. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Skim frequently. Add liquid if needed.
When meat is very tender, remove from broth. Set aside. Discard vegetables and strain broth through a sieve. Return broth to heat, and boil to reduce by half, about 20 - 30 minutes. When meat is cool, cut off any fat and pull into shreds about 2 inches wide.
While broth is reducing, coarsely chop the second onion.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Over medium heat, cook onions, garlic, chiles and green peppers until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups reduced broth and tomatoes. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes over medium heat. Stir in shredded meat, oregano, parsley and cumin. Cook 10 - 15 minutes more.

Serve with white or yellow rice.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. Nikki, I have to tell you that I tried the oatmeal bread and it is indeed quite dense but also really good. It makes especially fine toast! Being a quick bread, I anticipate making it often.

    you've been tagged!

    Please go to my blog for an explanation. :)

  2. Oh goodie! I've been holding off asking you how it turned out because I was afraid it didn't and then I'd be embarrassed! Thank you for tagging me :)

  3. Ooh, Cuban. I might need to make some mojo tonight. I am craving meat tonight.


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