Slow-Cooker Ropa Vieja With Black Beans and Rice Recipe

Slow-Cooker Ropa Vieja With Black Beans and Rice Recipe

After an initial sear in a hot pan, ropa vieja is prepared in the slow cooker and served with rice and stovetop-prepped black beans. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

Ropa vieja, the classic Cuban dish of shredded stewed beef flavored with a vinegary tomato and pepper sauce, is a natural choice for the slow cooker, stewed all day and served with rice and beans.

Why this recipe works:

  • Searing the meat hard before it goes into the slow cooker adds depth of flavor to the finished dish.
  • Olives and olive juice added at the end of cooking ensures that there's plenty of fresh, bright flavor without the oversalting that can occur when salty liquids are added at the beginning of a slow cooker cook.

Note: The beans or beef can be prepared up to three days in advance, stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and reheated to serve.

  • Yield:Serves 6
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:8 hours


  • For the Ropa Vieja:
  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium beef or chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine
  • For the Beans:
  • 2 1/2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed until water runs clear
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 slices hardwood-smoked bacon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • To Serve:
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Steamed white rice


  1. 1.

    Season meat generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the meat in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer meat to slow cooker.

  2. 2.

    Add broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, red pepper, garlic, and cumin to slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Shred meat using two forks. Add olives and olive brine and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary.

  3. 3.

    While meat is cooking, place beans and water in a large stockpot. Add bacon, bay leaves, and onion. Season gently and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until beans are tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Stir periodically, and add additional water if needed while cooking. When beans are done, discard bay leaves, bacon and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. 4.

    Sprinkle beef and beans with cilantro and serve with lime wedges and white rice.