Food & Drink

April 7, 2011

South Florida Food and Wine Weekend Kitchen with The Hungry Cuban

This week’s recipe for the South Florida Food and Wine pairing comes from Chef/Entrepreneur Juan Montalvo a.k.a., The Hungry Cuban. Chef Juan was a Firefighter/Paramedic for the City of Deerfield Beach for 28 years until he decided to park the big red truck and follow his passion for all things culinary and drive a catering truck instead. The Hungry Cuban graduated Magna Cum Laude from from The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale; I believe this would make him a top chef. Chef Juan and I are friends on Facebook and I followed every step of every recipe of his schooling as he meticulously posted his daily escapades in the classroom kitchen. The Hungry Cuban is a personal chef and by the looks of it a very endearing and successful one at that as I have continued to follow him on his new career path. I asked him to be a part of this series by sharing a classic Cuban recipe. This week’s recipe is the classic Cuban dish, “Ropa Vieja”, which literally translates to “old clothe”, a mixture of tender meat in a savory tomato sauce. If you tell your friends that you are serving them old clothe, you may get some strange glances, but this dish is a winner promises Chef Juan. 

Ropa Vieja ”Old Clothe”- Shredded Beef by Chef Juan Montalvo a.k.a., The Hungry Cuban

Makes 6-8 servings

3 lbs flank steak
12 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 large onions diced
1 large green bell pepper, cored seeded and diced
1 large red bell pepper, cored seeded and diced
4 tablespoons crushed garlic
2-15 ounce cans tomato sauce
pinch of cumin powder
2 tablespoons oregano
1 cup vino seco (dry white wine)
1-15 ounce can sweet early peas (low sodium)
1-4 ounce bottle diced pimentos
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil


Place flank steak, water, one bay leaf and salt in a deep pot or saute pan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat reduce the heat to medium low and cook the beef for about and 1-1 1/2 hours, until it starts to shred. Using a slotted spoon remove the beef and set aside to let cool.

Once the beef has sufficiently cooled shred it as necessary (using your hands or a meat mallet) so it is broken up into strands and has a stringy appearance.

In a large covered pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until fragrant. Add the onions, green peppers, red peppers, and cook until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and shredded beef, mix well.

Add the tomato sauce, vino seco, cumin, oregano, and remaining bay leaf. Bring to a boil, add the peas and pimentos, reduce heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the bay leaf and serve over brown rice.


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