Cuban Braised Shredded BeefOnce more, Cook’s Illustrated has lured me into a beef recipe. It’s happened to me before (see one and another). And now, the March/April 2015 issue makes me do it again in my Dutch oven: “Cuban Braised Shredded Beef” (recipe below). I win with a precise yet hands-off, rich delicious stew.

Cuban Braised Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)
Cook’s Illustrated,
March/April 2015

Serves 6 to 8

1 (2-lb.) beef brisket
, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch
Salt and pepper
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, halved and sliced thin
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped coarse
3/4 tsp. white wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Cut brisket against grain into 2-inch-wide strips. Cut any strips longer than 5 inches in half crosswise. Season beef on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown beef on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes; transfer to a large plate and set aside. Add and bell peppers and cook until softened and pan bottom develops fond, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl and set aside. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to now-empty pot, then add anchovies, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until mostly evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, tomato sauce, and bay leaves. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot and bring up to simmer over high heat. Transfer to oven and cook, covered, until beef is just tender, for 2 to 2-1/4 hours, flipping meat halfway through cooking.

2. Transfer beef to cutting board; when cool enough to handle, shred into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Meanwhile, add olives and reserved vegetables to pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened and measures 4 cups, 5  to 7 minutes. Stir in beef. Add vinegar. Season with salt, pepper, and extra vinegar to taste; serve.

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Prep everything first. Cut those crude chunks of beef. Slice your onions and peppers. Then, let that stuff stew for 2 1/4 hours (easy!). After that, the “fork-shredding” is the magic trick. It’s simple and anyone can do it. When your shredded beef goes back into the pot, you’ll melt into the delicious scent of the peppers and the olives. I added an additional 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar and another 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to my mix. It’s a perfect gravy.

I did the right thing and served this with white rice and pinto beans. Enjoy.

Beef Brisket (2 lbs.) = $20.92
Onions (2) = .79¢
Red Bell Peppers (2) = .90¢
Canned Tomato Sauce (8 oz.) = .77¢
White Basmati Rice (.88 lb.) = $1.98
Canned Pinto Beans (15 oz.) = $1.86

PREP TIME: devote at least 3 hours to the overall prep and stewing, much of it hands-off
rice beefiness, red peppers, olives

Next time, I’ll nod toward Scandinavia(?) with the “Caraway Salmon with Rye Berry-and-Beet Salad,” from the February 2015 issue of Food & Wine. Come back to my site next week to see what rye berries can do.