Capture the mood of Cuba with Ropa Vieja and Mojitos

Ropa Vieja is a Cuban dish served everywhere. Usually it is made of beef, but pork is sometimes used.

I’m now working on my stories about Cuba for a series that will begin next month. Food was the focus of my people-to-people tour and I now crave some tastes I enjoyed there such as Ropa Vieja  and mojitos. You cannot buy the great Cuban rum in the this country but you can make Americanized versions of these foods for a flavor of Cuba. Ropa Vieja, Spanish for “old clothes,” was also served to us using pork, a diet staple all over Cuba. We learned how to make both at the Artechef Cooking School in Havana.


4 pounds chuck or arm roast, well marbled

2 tablespoons olive oil for browning

1/3 cup flour to dust meat

1 green pepper, cut into chunks

1 onion sliced

5 cloves garlic chopped


2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, mashed with 1 teaspoon salt

2 green peppers, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil (for sautéing)

4 ounces tomato paste

1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 cup red wine

1 bay leaf

Salt and black pepper to taste

Do not trim excess fat from meat before cooking because it lends its flavor to the dish and can be removed when the meat is shredded.  Salt and pepper the meat and lightly dust with flour.

Brown  meat in oil in a large Dutch oven, adding  enough water to surround the meat, but not to  cover it. Add chunks of  green pepper, sliced onion, and garlic. Simmer, covered, until meat is fork tender, about two hours. (Add more water as necessary

Remove from heat and cool. Discard vegetables. Shred the meat with a pair of forks.

Sauté onions, garlic and green pepper in oil.   Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, cumin, red wine and bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and either  stir in the shredded beef or pour over. Serve over rice.

You can’t buy Havana Club rum in the U.S. but mojitos made from it are staples in Cuba. Here a bartender lines up the drinks to prepare them for a group.


(Makes one)

2 tablespoons white sugar (some bartenders use simple syrup)

Fresh mint

1 lime, cut in half and juiced with a fork

1/2 cup sparkling water



Place sugar and mint in bottom of glass.  Add lemon or lime juice. Muddle mint with  a heavy wooden spoon, mashing it against sides of glass. Pour in sparkling water and two drops of bitters. Top off with 1-1/2 jiggers of rum. Garnish with mint sprig


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2 Responses

  1. Theresa Neuhoff Audia says:

    Mojitos sounds amazing. I'll have to try recipe. Theresa

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mmmmmm – Mojitos – my favorite summer drink. Rob