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Ropa Vieja Empanadas

Ropa Vieja Empanadas

While in Miami last month, I visited a Cuban restaurant that served Ropa Vieja Empanadas – sooo delicious! I savored every bite and even talked to the chef. Then I returned home and saw I had a new recipe due for Rumba Meats using a non-traditional cut of meat: Cheekmeat!
These empanadas came out so savory and tender, very flavorful. Ther’re super fun to make and will make a great dish for a party of family gathering. Plus, they are easy to take to go!
The reason I’m so sentimental about these types of recipes are that they remind me so much of my dad. When I lived at home growing up, he visited the butcher every weekend and came home with a little package wrapped in white paper and tape. We never knew what he was going to make. His thinking was that if we were going to eat beef, we should respect all parts of the cow. And well, sometimes I think it made him happy to freak us out with his mystery meat.
He would do things like make empanadas just like this and we’d gobble them down! THEN he would tell us, “By the way, you just ate tongue. Or cheekmeat.”
I’d like to think he’s looking down at us from Heaven smiling bright at these recipes! He would be so proud!
So anyway! I told my husband, who does most of the cooking, and he suggested we try to make the Ropa Vieja Empanadas. We visited our local Fry’s and picked up all the ingredients. We followed this recipe from Epicurious because we had no idea where to start!
This traditional cut is often used to make juicy barbacoa, a favorite Sunday morning dish. You can top it with fresh chopped cilantro, and serve on tortillas. But for this recipe, we’re doing something a lil different.
MUCH respect to proper Cuban chefs and cooks out there!

How to make Ropa Vieja Empanadas!

Ropa Vieja recipe from Epicurious.com


For braising beef:

3 pounds Rumba Meat cheekmeat
2 quarts water
2 carrots, chopped coarse
1 large onion, chopped coarse
2 celery ribs, chopped coarse
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, crushed lightly
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch strips
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups braising liquid plus additional if desired
a 14- to 16-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olive, drained and halved

2 packages of uncooked pie crust

Cooking oil

In a 5-quart kettle combine all braising ingredients and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours, or until beef is tender. Remove kettle from heat and cool meat in liquid 30 minutes. Transfer meat to a platter and cover. Strain braising liquid through a colander, pressing on solids, into a bowl. Return braising liquid to kettle and boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Stew may be made up to this point 1 day ahead. Cool braising liquid completely and chill it and the beef separately, covered.

In kettle cook green bell peppers and onion in 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.

While vegetables are cooking, pull meat into shreds about 3 by 1/2 inches. To onion mixture add shredded meat, 2 cups braising liquid, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

While stew is simmering, in a large skillet cook red and yellow bell peppers in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir peppers into stew with enough additional braising liquid to thin to desired consistency and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in peas and olives and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Ropa vieja. A LOT of ingredients make this super flavorful and tasty!


Let the pie crust dough set out for an hour. Add flour to your work area and open one package of the dough and carefully unroll it. It will be a little thick, so use a rolling pin to thin it just a bit. Then use a large circle cookie cutter to cut shapes. Add a tablespoon or so and fold over the dough. Use a fork to pinch the edges nice and tight.

In a deep pan, pour in oil and let it heat up.

Using tongs, carefully place the empanada to cook the dough until it is golden brown. Set on paper towels when to drain.


You can see more about  Rumba Meats here at their website!

About Rumba Meats!

They have a variety of meat products (a total of twenty!) for authentic Mexican and other Latino dishes.

Thanks to these campaigns I worked on this year with Rumba Meats, I’ve learned how to make all the dishes my dad made for our family as we were growing up. I never realized how sentimental cooking can be! My dad used to go to the local butcher for these types of meat cuts, and I love that now I can easily buy them from my local grocery store. Everything you need to know is clearly labeled on the package to help with freezing and cooking.

Here is the link to see where you can buy them too: http://www.rumbameats.com/store-locator.

Make sure to visit their site to see all the other recipes and ideas they have, plus they have a super cute Instagram account! So lively and artful!



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