If you’re a regular here then you know that one of my favorite dishes is Ropa Vieja! A plate of Ropa Vieja with Mangu on the side automatically puts me in my happy place. It’s my Cuban side mixed with my Dominican side and honestly what is there not to love? Now if you’ve never made Ropa Vieja, then you probably don’t realize that Ropa Vieja is a dish that you have to make with great patience. Why? Because it takes forever… unless you use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot which is exactly what I did today!
Instant Pot Ropa Vieja is a great way of making this classic dish when you want to make Ropa Vieja fast and fairly effortless. However, you still have to plan ahead if you want to make this dish. Unlike other dishes, Ropa Vieja isn’t a dish that you can make on a whim and expect the best result. The meat truly needs some time to marinate and even after you cook it, the dish tastes so much better once it’s had a chance to sit. The flavors build on each other and get better with time!
It’s funny because it took me so long to open up to making Ropa Vieja differently. I cook as a way to reconnect with my grandmother. I miss her and I’m always worried that if I don’t do things the way that she taught me, I’ll soon forget. My biggest fear is not being able to pass down her lessons to my future kids. But I realize that I need to evolve past my fears and understand that just because I modernize a cooking method or use a different cooking method that my grandmother, that I’m tarnishing her legacy and erasing her. That can’t be anything further from the truth! While I always prefer to make most things the old school way, there’s definitely merits to modernizing.
Now there are definitely pros and cons to making Ropa Vieja in an Instant Pot. The biggest pro is that you’ll save time both cooking and cleaning up afterwards. The Instant Pot allows for effortless cooking, which is perfect for those of us who are busy or chasing after kids. All in all, it just makes your life easier. Making the Ropa Vieja in an Instant Pot is also great if you’re making a large amount. Do keep in mind that the Instant Pot never gets as hot as your stove, which is really important when you’re browning the meat. Alas, that’s why I suggest browning the meat in batches when using the Instant Pot so that you still develop flavor and depth.
Lastly, you’ll notice one of the biggest differences when making Ropa Vieja in an Instant Pot is the sauce. The sauce is much runnier and you have to give the Instant Pot some extra time to thicken it. You can also add extra tomato paste to help it along, but nonetheless, the extra sauce is still AMAZING! Whether you making Ropa Vieja in an Instant Pot or on the stove– both will be delicious! Even better yet is if you pair it with the Cuban classics– white rice, black beans, avocado, and maduros! Oh man… talk about hungry!
Before we jump into the recipe, I also wanted to mention that you can use a variety of different meats to make Ropa Vieja. I always use brisket because the meat itself is naturally flavorful and despite being expensive, you get a lot for your money. However, you can opt for other cuts of meat like skirt steak or even flank steak. Regardless of what you choose, just be sure to give the meat a chance to marinate so that it absorbs all of the amazing flavors.
And now for the recipe….
- Stop Motion Ingredients: Meat
- 2 lbs Brisket
- ½ tbs Soy Sauce *optional
- 5 garlic cloves mashed
- 1 Lime or Sour Orange
- ½ tbs Sazón
- 2 Bay Leaves
- ¼ tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Dominican Orégano
- ½ tbs Adobo or Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Stop Motion: Sauce
- 1 White Onion
- ½ Green Pepper
- ½ Red Pepper
- 2 -3 tbs tomato paste or ½ cup tomato sauce
- 1 tbs Cilantro
- 1-2 tbsp Spanish Olives
- 1 tsp (Vino Seco) Dry White cooking wine
- 3 garlic cloves chopped
- ½ tsp red wine vinegar *optional
- 1 tsp Brown Sugar
- Cut brisket into large chunks and mash garlic with a pinch of salt to release juice. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, season brisket with mashed garlic, oregano, cumin, sazon, salt, pepper, sour oranges, and soy sauce. Mix everything until it's well combined and marinate for at least two hour or overnight in the fridge.
- Set Instant Pot to saute mode and add olive oil once Instant Pot has become hot. Brown brisket in batches until all sides have browned. This will help both seal in and build flavor.
- Once you've browned all of the brisket, add them back into the pot along with about 4 cups of water. You want to add enough water so that the meat is covered completely. After you add the water, be sure to stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. Scrape any bits that may be stuck at the bottom of the pot as this is full of flavor. Afterwards, add 1-2 bay leaves.
- Close Instant Pot and pressure cook on HIGH for 45 minutes. Afterwards, carefully release pressure and remove brisket. Do NOT discard liquid. Set aside.
- Shred brisket as finely as you wish and set aside in a bowl
- Going back to the Instant Pot, set on saute mode again. Once broth begins to simmer, add tomato sauce and tomato paste, dry white wine, brown sugar, and cilantro. Stir until well combined. After about 5 minutes, add shredded brisket and mix. Adjust seasoning as needed.
- Once sauce and brisket have begun to simmer and seasonings are to your liking, add sliced onions, peppers, garlic, olives and red wine vinegar. Stir and remove from heat. Let Ropa Vieja sit for a few minutes before serving. Note that this dish will taste better the longer it sits as flavors will deepen.
Feel free to use adobo or your favorite seasoning salt for this recipe. Add a dash of red wine for a richer more complex sauce or hot pepper seeds for added kick.