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Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes) — Sofrito and Beef

by Barbara Alvarez, MPH

Servings: 8 (3/4 Cup Meat/Sauce + 1 Cup Rice Per Serving)
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3/4 Cup Meat/Sauce + 1 Cup Rice
Amount per serving
Calories 480
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 
 Saturated Fat 4g 
Cholesterol 70mg 
Sodium 710mg 
Total Carbohydrate 55g 
 Dietary Fiber 6g 
Protein 30g 

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

This authentic Cuban dish has a strange name, but it also has a flavor you'll want again and again after trying it. The leftovers freeze well, so cook up a batch and freeze for easy meals on a busy night.


1 large onion, diced
2 medium-size green bell peppers, diced
5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds flat cut beef brisket, quartered
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup white or red wine
2 large bay leaves
2 teaspoons sazon completa (found in the international section of most groceries), or 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons oregano, ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt
8 cups cooked brown rice
pimientos for garnish, optional


Stove-Top Method

  1. Sauté onions, bell peppers, and garlic in oil in a heavy 6-quart (or larger) pot over medium-low heat until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the meat, increase heat to medium-high; brown each side about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat. Add the tomato sauce, wine, bay leaves, and spices. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Remove from heat.
  4. Shred the beef with two forks. Return the meat to the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Serve over rice. 

Pressure Cooker Method

  1. Place the rack on the bottom of a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker. Add ½ inch water (2 cups for 6-quart size) to the cooker; place the brisket quarters on the rack.
  2. Over high heat bring the pressure cooker to high pressure. Lower the heat to maintain cooker at high pressure and cook for 45 minutes.
  3. Allow the pressure to release naturally, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Let the meat cool.
  4. With two forks, shred the meat into strands of muscle fiber, removing fat or large pieces of fascia.
  5. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a 6-quart or larger pot. Add the onion, green peppers, and garlic; cover and cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the shredded meat, tomato sauce, wine, bay leaves, seasoning, and black pepper. Cook over low heat for approximately 30 minutes.
  7. If necessary, add more tomato juice, wine or defatted, reserved beef stock. The meat dish should be moist, but not runny. Garnish with pimentos, if desired. Serve with brown or white rice.
Rate this article:  Average 2.5 out of 5

About the author:

Barbara J Alvarez MPH

Barbara Alvarez, MPH

Contributor to "American Dietetic Association Cooking Healthy Across America" by American Dietetic Association and Food and Culinary Professionals, a Dietetic Practice Group of ADA. John Wiley and Sons, 2005.




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