Ropa vieja
                (from Daisy Cooks)

Long a fan of Carribean cuisine since eating at The Torch restaurant the years it was in business in Provo, I copied this recipe from a PBS series.

Trip to Cuba

Nothing says Cuban cooking like their beloved frijoles negros—black beans. Daisy prepares "Moors and Christians," black beans served with white rice, and a delicious Cuban black bean soup. Also on the menu is Ropa vieja, or "Old clothes"; a fantastic dish of slow-cooked, fork-tender beef.

This dish gets its name from the shredded texture of the beef, which resembles clothes so worn they're falling apart. If you're Cuban, please don't come after me for using chuck steak instead of the more traditional flank steak. Both are delicious, but I prefer the texture of the shredded chuck to that of flank. Other than that, this is a traditional version of a Cuban standard, which will taste better the next day.

Makes 6 servings

  2½ lbs chuck roast (or two 1¼ pound flank steaks)
  2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the beef
  freshly ground pepper
  onion powder
  3 tbsp canola oil
  ½ cup sofrito
  ¼ tsp ground cumin
  16 oz Spanish-style tomato sauce, canned
  1½ cups water
  3 tbsp alcaparrado or coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
  2 bay leaves
  4 celery stalks, with leaves, cut into ¼-inch dice
  3 medium carrots, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch dice
  1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Pound the chuck roast or flank steaks out with a heavy meat mallet until about ½ inch thick. Season both sides of the beef generously with salt, pepper and onion powder.

2. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof, heavy skillet over high heat until rippling. Add the beef and cook it until well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes.

3. Drain or spoon off most of the fat from the pan. Stir in the sofrito, 2 tsp salt, and the cumin and bring to a boil. Depending on how much oil was left in the pan, you may have to add a little olive oil to give the mix a nice, creamy texture. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, alcaparrado or olives, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover the dish and bake until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork, about 2½ hours. Let stand in the sauce until cool enough to handle.

4. Shred the meat coarsely by hand or using two forks. Return it to the sauce and add the celery and carrots. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook a few minutes more. Watch the liquid as it cooks, and add more broth of water as needed.