Sunday Dinner - Ropa Vieja

Sunday, July 24th, 2011 | click here to comment

When I first heard about the NYC Celiac Disease Potluck Dinner Meetup, I knew it was something I had to check out. I've never been to a potluck of any kind before, unless you count family gatherings (which I don't) and have always wanted to either host or attend one.

delight gluten-free magazine summer issue and tulip cookie lollipop via Heidi Dean

I agonized over what to make and ran a variety of ideas past my gluten-loving husband, Matt, who (wisely) talked me out of making a few things that simply wouldn't travel well. I finally settled on Ropa Vieja, something I've made many times at home for Sunday dinners, but have never made for anyone else strangely enough. Spanish food is one of my go-to's when I need comfort food, the meals are rich and full of flavor, even if they sometimes make me feel like I'm going to explode.This particular recipe is much more flavorful than anything you will find at a restaurant, with a tomato broth that has an oomph of umami. I've worked on tweaking this Ropa Vieja recipe until I felt it was just right, which I think it pretty much is, although I'll continue to refine it over time. The only word of caution I can offer is if you need to peek in on the meat while it's cooking, be careful. I got a nasty steam burn on my arm when I cracked the lid open to peer at the meat to make sure everything was ok. It's amazing what a Boo Boo Bear and some wine will do for the pain!

previously photographed

To off-set the richness of the ropa vieja I wanted something starchy and decided to make Moros y Cristianos (black beans mixed with rice). There are a plethora of Moros y Cristianos recipes out there, but I settled on one from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. The recipe is good, but needs a little bit of tweaking for my personal taste. I'd halve the amount of ingredients called for in the recipe if you are serving 4 or fewer people, since this makes a HUGE pot of rice. We arrived at the Meetup with our toddler in tow, and while the dinner was already in full swing by the time we got there, we still had plenty to choose from, including an amazing assortment of desserts that I wish I brought home with me! The little one made good work of some chocolate cupcakes and strawberries, before turning her focus to the gorgeous lollipop "cookies" made by Heidi Dean from Heidi's Gluten-Free Greatness in Highland Falls, NY. I had a great time tasting a few of the dishes and wish I had arrived earlier so I could have enjoyed more of the food and fun company. It was a great evening to celebrate the re-launch of Delight Gluten-Free magazine in NYC, organized by the fab Erin Smith. Looking forward to the next potluck!


Ropa Vieja (Gluten-Free)

floured meat (better batter flour)
meat braising in liquid (do not submerge the meat completely)
Ropa Vieja | Gluten-Free Sunday Dinner
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 lbs flank steak
  • 1 tbsp of gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)
  • 2 carrots, chopped roughly
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped roughly
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, one chopped roughly, the other sliced in half moons (save for second half of recipe)
  • 6 cloves garlic, 3 crushed lightly, 3 diced (save for second half of recipe)
  • 1 32 oz can whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste, using 3 heaping spoonfuls
  • 1 cup Spanish olives
  • 3-4 cups beef broth (I use Kitchen Basics)
  • 1/4 cup sofrito (available in the Spanish aisle or online - check ingredients carefully to ensure it is gluten-free)
  • 1/2 packet sazon (available in the Spanish aisle or online - check ingredients carefully to ensure it is gluten-free)
  • 1 bay leaf
Do not trim excess fat from meat before cooking (you can remove the fat when you shred the beef). Salt and pepper the meat and lightly dust with flour.

Brown the meat in oil in a large Dutch oven. Add enough liquid to surround the meat, but do NOT submerge/cover it. Add chopped carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, until meat is fork tender, for 2 - 2.5 hours. Add water as necessary to keep from burning.

Remove meat from heat, cool and shred in a bowl. Strain liquid into another bowl and reserve 2 cups (including the bay leaf).

In Dutch oven, saute green bell pepper, red pepper, garlic and sliced onion in 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add sofrito. To pepper mixture add shredded meat, 2 cups braising liquid with bay leaf, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, olives, garlic, cumin, oregano and sazon. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until flavor is rich.

Serve with rice.

Moros y Cristianos

via Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy


  • 4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 1/2 cups white onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups bell peppers, seeded and diced (I used a mixture of green, red and yellow.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups long-grain white rice


1.  Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.

2.  Use a large, eight-quart covered stockpot. Sauté the onion and green pepper in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic, and sauté another minute or two. Add the tomato paste, black beans, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, and vinegar. Cook for about five minutes, stirring gently.

3.  Add the chicken stock and the rinsed rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes — until the rice is fully cooked.

4.  Remove the bay leaf and add salt and pepper to taste. For an added treat, drizzle some Spanish olive oil (don’t be stingy!) over the rice in the pot and fluff cooked rice gently with a fork. If plating the rice as a side dish, drizzle a little olive oil over individual servings and garnish with some parsley or cilantro.

Serves 8


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