Ropa Vieja in Lettuce Wraps

Ropa Vieja in Lettuce Wraps
Ropa Vieja in Lettuce Wraps

Cooking is a part of the fabric of family life for me.  I’ve cooked with my family ever since I can remember.  It is the one thing that I have always looked forward to no matter what the meal.  I still do.

So, it’s no wonder that the folks in my family know how to cook.  From this guy to this guy, I’d put anyone in our family (man, woman or child) up against any other family in the universe.  Luckily, I’ve been able to share the joy of building a home cooked meal with Mrs. NH as well.  She has a whole different skill set than me (she’s especially good at cakes, pies and other desserts) but she’s just as proficient at putting together an inventive and head-scratchingly brilliant dinner on her own.

Last night she made Ropa Vieja in Lettuce Wraps.  It’s her riff on the succulent Ropa Vieja de Pato (duck) offered up at New York’s Asia de Cuba.  She used the more traditional skirt steak in place of duck for this batch but the result was no less satisfying.  The sweetness of the sherry, peppers and onion combined with the tender shredded beef against the backdrop of the crisp iceberg wraps meshed perfectly with a bottle of Spanish Rioja, rice and beans and a clear June night on the balcony.  Eat your heart out, Fidel.

As it turns out, in cooking, like many things in life, half the fun is getting there and the other half of the fun is after you’ve arrived – and eat.

UPDATE:  Now, with the recipe!

Ropa Vieja in Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from Alex Garcia

1 (2 1/2-pound) flank steak, halved lengthwise
2 bay leaves
1 carrot, sliced
2 onions, julienne
1 tablespoon dry oregano
2 red pepper, julienne
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sherry
2 cups whole tomatoes, canned (1 can)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cube beef bullion
Salt and pepper
1 head iceberg lettuce
Serving with black beans and white rice.


Boil the flank steak with bay leaves, carrots, 1 onion, and oregano with enough water to cover the ingredients. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Drain and let the meat cool, cut into 2-inch cubes and then shred.

Saute the remaining onion, peppers, and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Deglaze with sherry. Add tomatoes and cumin. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the shredded meat and cook for 1/2 hour. Season with salt and pepper.

Wrap in leaves of iceberg lettuce.


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