Cuban Braised Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)
Why This Recipe Works
Traditional ropa vieja recipes require making a beef stock and then using the meat and some of the liquid to make a separate sauté with onion and pepper slices and spices. To simplify, we combined the two cooking methods into the ease of braising in a Dutch oven, which also meant that all of the beef’s juices ended up in the final dish. We eschewed traditional flank steak in favor of brisket, which contains the right mix of beefy flavor and collagen to guarantee just-tender, flavorful juicy shreds. We cut the brisket ahead of time into 2-inch-wide strips to speed cooking and make shredding a breeze. To mimic the meatiness that commonly comes from an MSG-spiked seasoning blend, we chose to sear the meat before braising, and we added two glutamate-rich anchovies to the mix. We found that slowly caramelizing the onion and pepper strips mimicked the deep flavor of a traditional sofrito without requiring an extra step. The final addition of briny chopped green olives and a splash of white vinegar brings all the flavors into sharp focus.