You know how an old song will transport you back to a specific place and time? Some 80’s songs will suddenly transport me to a moment with Billy or Craig about to jump our bikes over an insanely unsafe makeshift ramp we fashioned from discarded contruction materials. The adrenaline’s pumping, our sweaty laughing faces, it’s all perfectly captured in time and some certain songs will take me right to moments like that. That’s what Ropa Vieja does for me (without the risk to life and limb).
Growing up when I’d hear the comforting chi-chika, chi-chika, chi-chika sound the pressure cooker’s regulator made dancing atop the lid, I knew that dinner would be something special. Literally translated, “old clothes,” the aroma of this tender shredded beef stew filled the house with the most wonderful bouquet that actually changes and becomes even more appetizing as the beef breaks down.
So, like my mom taught me, I make Ropa Vieja with a pressure cooker; it speeds up the braising process and is very effective. The recipe I’ll be sharing — my personal Ropa Vieja recipe — involves using the pressure cooker, however if you don’t have one, no worries. I’ll also share some really great recipes I’ve tried that result in a great traditional Ropa Vieja.