Wednesday, October 19, 2011

…My Strip District Visit, 10/15/11 Parte Tres: Ropa Vieja

I can cook – from a recipe.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t go out to eat every day – in fact, I try NOT to go out and eat more than once a week because of my diet.  Lately, though, that hasn’t been so easy, but I figure it’s ok since the weather is turning colder, and I probably won’t get out as much soon.

I’ve been trying to add to my recipe collection, since I cook a lot more in the winter months (being stuck inside in the cold, snowy, icy Pittsburgh climate causes me to be bored – when I’m bored, I cook).  Twitter has definitely been super helpful in helping me to find recipes to try, and some of them have been too irresistible for me to wait until winter to test out for myself.

One of my favorite followees has been Flaming Tortillas (@ftortillas) and their collection of Latin American recipes.  Every time they tweet a recipe, I look at it and think, “I could totally make that,” and one caught my eye immediately.

Ropa vieja.

I know how much you love to run to your Spanish-English dictionaries to help with translation (no facetious tone at ALL there), so I will just tell you that “ropa vieja” translates literally to mean, “old clothes”.


It’s not called “old clothes” because it TASTES like old clothes – I mean, no matter how hungry I may be, I will NOT eat anything that I have ever worn as clothing (sorry, Lady Gaga – no meat dress for me).  When this recipe is made correctly, the shredded flank steak in a flavorful, tomato-based sauce resembles old clothes or rags.

The best part?  I could make it in the crockpot.  I heart my crockpot.

I made sure to write down the ingredients that I needed on my shopping list for the Strip District, knowing that the prices there tend to be much better than those at my local supermarket (*cough* Giant Eagle).  I intended on getting my veggies from Stan’s Market, and my meat from Wholey’s – and it worked out.

The recipe can be found here:

I’ll let the pictures tell the buying and cooking story…see below the pictures for the tasting results:

Lots of spices in this recipe.  I only had to buy lemon pepper from Penzey's in the Strip District - I had everything else, except for coriander, so I used Pampered Chef Southwest Seasoning instead (probably not the best substitute, but the recipe didn't call for much, anyway).  Crushed tomatoes and tomato paste make for the red, tomato-y sauce.

1.97 lbs. of flank steak @$7.99/lb. at Wholey's
White onion and serrano pepper from Stan's Market; Worcestershire sauce from my fridge.
Orange peppers from Giant Eagle & roasted hatch chilis from Reyna's (my uncle told me he had plenty of green peppers, but I didn't want to bother him when I wanted to make this recipe - so I substituted)

Pre-cooked ropa vieja in the crockpot
About halfway done and making my house smell A-MAZ-ING!
8 hours later.  Done.  Looking like "old clothes".  Smelling like a cocina latina.
Makes a good taco filling (although I would strain off some of the sauce - very drippy if you don't!), especially on corn tortillas from Reyna Foods.

It.  Was.  Delicious. 

My house smelled like ropa vieja all night and into the next morning – no complaints.  The taste was spicy, but not overly spicy.  I was concerned about the amount of spices that were in this recipe, but everything worked together nicely to make a flavorful, but not overpowering sauce.

Authentic.  Easy.  Me gusta.

Flaming Tortillas

1711 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Stan’s Market
1811 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

The Strip District Website:
Strip District Twitter:!/StripDistrict


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