Ropa Vieja meets Picadillo, or Ropa-dillo Arepas

March 5, 2015
Lunch, Dinner, Beef, Sandwiches, Comfort Food, B-Team Recipes

Read Elyse's blog post to learn the story behind ropa-dillo arepas

Serves 4-6

Ropa Vieja
2 cups drained and chopped canned whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1½ tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ cup cooking sherry
Salt and pepper
One 2 to 2½ pound flank steak
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 Spanish onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Approximately 1-2 cups low sodium chicken stock
¼ cup capers
¼ cup Spanish olives, pitted and thinly sliced
¼ cup golden raisins
Juice from 1 lime
Fresh cilantro, finely chopped

To Serve
Arepas (recipe below)
Cotija cheese (optional)
Fresh cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. In a medium sized bowl, combine the tomatoes, cumin, Mexican oregano, parsley and sherry. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Heat large oven-safe saucepan over medium to high heat (I used a Le Creuset 5 quart braiser with lid). If your flank steak won't fit into the pan in one piece, cut it in two. Season both sides with salt and pepper and lightly brown each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. In the same pan, heat two tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat. Add both peppers, onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sweat until they begin to soften. Once soft, add this to the bowl containing the tomato mixture.

4. Place the meat back into the pan and spread the tomato mixture in around it. Add chicken stock to the pan until the meat is covered about three quarters of the way up its side. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and then the lid.

5. Cook in the oven for approximately 90 minutes to two hours, or until the meat is so tender that you can pull it apart with forks. (These first 5 steps can be done up to one day before serving. If not serving day-of, you can now bring the mixture to room temperature and store in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, remove covered pan from the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and continue with step 6.)

6. Once tender, remove the meat from the tomato mixture and let cool. Then, using two forks or your fingers, pull the meat into shreds. Put the shredded meat back into tomato mixture, add about three quarters of a cup of chicken stock, and fold everything to combine. Bring the mixture to a low simmer on the stove over low to medium heat and reduce until most of the liquid is cooked out.

7. After about 15-20 minutes on the stove, fold in the capers, olives and golden raisins, and continue reduce mixture. When fully reduced, remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and squeeze in fresh juice from one lime. Fold in chopped cilantro.

8. To plate: slice arepa (recipe below) about two thirds of the way through. Stuff with Ropa-dillo. Garnish with crumbled cotija cheese (or grated queso fresco) and torn cilantro leaves.

2 cups PAN yellow cornmeal
2 - 2¼ cups warm water (around 132 degrees)
6 tablespoons melted crisco
½ cup grated melting cheese (queso blanco, cotija, Swiss or Manchego)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. Mix together the PAN and water until almost combined. Add the crisco, cheese, salt and pepper and mix until smooth. Place the dough in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes at room temperature.

2. Measure out 4 ounces of the dough for each arepa and flatten into a ring mold. Heat a few teaspoons of canola oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat until it just begins to shimmer. Put the arepa in and cook unti thel bottom is light golden brown, then flip over and cook the other side until light golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Cover the pan and let cook a few more minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.