Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tall Tales


Have you ever seen the movie "Big Fish"?  It's pretty old, but for me it's a classic.  It's about a dying man and his grown son.  The father has told the son tall tales all of his life, but as the son grew up he stopped believing in them.  As it turned out, the tall tales were true in a sense.  I won't ruin the movie for you, but it's a great story.

This Cuban stew is called Ropa Vieja, which means old clothes, and there is a tall tale about that as well.  One day, a very poor man came home to his hungry family.  They had nothing to eat.  Looking for a solution, he went to his closet and got some old clothes to cook into a stew.  He put so much love into his dish that the old clothes turned into a wonderful beef stew that fed his family.  Tall tale, yes.  But it kinda makes you feel all warm inside thinking that a man could love his family so much that magic could happen! 

Now, about this stew...this is a very inexpensive dish that tastes very expensive and rich.  The heartiness of it makes you feel the love of that poor man.  The shredded meat here is the reason they call it "old clothes."  Kind of looks like torn shreds of clothes.  You can use either flank steak or skirt steak for this.  It calls for something called Sazon, which is a type of seasoned salt with a little turmeric to give it color. I cooked this stew in the crockpot, so it's easy and quick to throw together.  And the taste?  It's fabulous!  I've made it twice in the last month.  That's how good it is.  Enjoy!

ROPA VIEJA
One 2 1/2 lb flank steak (that size more or less)
Olive oil
2 serrano peppers (or jalapenos), chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 packet Sazon (or seasoned salt, to taste)
1 T beef bouillon paste (or powder will work too)
Black pepper, to taste
1 C green olives, sliced
Fresh chopped cilantro (for garnish)
3 C water
Cooked white rice, for serving
A crockpot, for cooking

Drizzle a little olive oil into the crockpot and put all of the ingredients into a crockpot except for the cilantro and the rice. Cook for 6-8 hours or until the meat can be shredded with a fork.  You can shred the meat with two forks directly in the crockpot (creates longer pieces of shredded meat) or you can remove it to a cutting board and shred (creates smaller pieces of shredded meat).  Serve the stew over the rice and garnish with the cilantro.

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