Welcome friends who love cooking and good food! At Paulina Cocina we are constantly exploring recipes, which luckily can take us to many places, without leaving home. Today we travel to beautiful Cuba, to enjoy a plate of Cuban old clothing.

This super tasty recipe, despite its not very tempting name, consists of a delicious shredded meatwhich is served with tomato sauce and accompanied with rice and fried plantainswhich gives it the final Cuban touch.

In this note, we will thoroughly explore everything related to Cuban ropa Vieja recipe, from its origin, the legends around its name, the ingredients that cannot be missing and what is necessary to prepare it at home. To travel!

About old clothes

The old cuban clothes It is a traditional dish of Cuban cuisine that consists of shredded beef (beef) cooked in a rich sauce of tomato, onion, pepper and spices.

The result is a mix of intense flavors and a soft and juicy texture which makes it an irresistible delight. It is typically served with white rice and fried plantains, creating a comforting and filling dish.

Origin and history of old Cuban clothing

The history of old Cuban clothing It is as rich as its flavor. This dish is said to have its roots in traditional Spanish cuisine, like Cuban rice or arroz con pollo, specifically in the Canary Islands region.

The Canarian immigrants who arrived in Cuba in the 19th century brought with them the recipe for “old clothes“, which consisted of shredding and cooking leftover meat with vegetables and tomato sauce.

Over time, this recipe was adapted to the ingredients available in Cuba and became an emblematic dish of the island. The tradition of preparing old cuban clothes on special occasions and family gatherings it became ingrained in Cuban culture, making it a symbol of the hospitality and generosity of the island’s cuisine.

Why is it called old clothes?

Name “old clothes” It may seem strange, but it has a logical explanation. The story goes that the name comes from the appearance of the shredded meat, which resembles pieces of old, torn cloth.

However, there are some legends surrounding the creation of this dish. One of the most popular, although anecdotal, relates to a Cuban fisherman who, after a long day at sea, returned to his house empty-handed and hungry.

Not having fresh fish for cooking, his wife decided to take the leftover meat they had at home, shred it to make it last longer, and cook it in a tomato sauce with vegetables. As the meat simmered, the aroma filled the house and attracted the attention of neighbors who began asking what they were cooking.

The wife, not wanting to reveal that these were leftovers, joked that she was cooking “old clothes“. The response generated laughter and curiosity among the neighbors, but when they tried the dish, they were surprised by its flavor.

Other names of the typical food of Cuba ropa Vieja

Although in Cuba it is known as old clothesthis dish has other names and variants in different places around the world.

  • Meatloaf: In Puerto Rico, it is known as “mechada meat.” The preparation is similar, with shredded meat in a tomato sauce and spices.
  • Old Dominican clothes: In the Dominican Republic, they also enjoy their own version of this dish, which although it shares similarities with the Cuban version, usually has its own twist.
  • Hash: In some places in Latin America, especially in countries like Mexico and Nicaragua, there is a dish called “picadillo” that resembles old cuban clothes. But instead of beef, picadillo is prepared with minced (ground) meat.
  • Beef stew: In some places in Spain and Latin America, this dish is also called “meat stew.” Although the recipes may vary, they share the base of meat cooked in a tomato sauce and spices.

What can’t be missing from the Cuban beef ropavieja recipe

The preparation of this recipe requires specific ingredients that give it its characteristic flavor. The meat for old clothes It is, without a doubt, the main component. Tender, lean beef is used, such as flank steak or flank steak, which is cooked over low heat until it can be easily shredded.

The Cuban ropa Vieja sauce is also essential. This sauce is made from crushed tomato, the cooking juice of the meat, onion, pepper, garlic and spices such as bay leaf.

The combination of these ingredients creates a thick, flavorful sauce that permeates the meat and makes it even more delicious.

How to make old Cuban clothes

The preparation of this typical Cuban food, old clothes, It may vary slightly from recipe to recipe, but the fundamental steps are the same. First, the meat is cooked over low heat until it is tender and can be shredded.

Then, in the second part of this Cuban ropa Vieja recipe Prepare the tomato sauce and mix it with the shredded meat. The dish is cooked over low heat so that all the flavors mix and the meat absorbs the sauce.

The traditional accompaniment of white rice and fried plantains It gives the characteristic Cuban final touch to this dish.

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Cuban ropa Vieja recipe

Yield: 4 portions

Preparation time: 1 hour and 30 minutes (approximately)


  • 500 grams of lean meat (skirt or entrail)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • White rice and fried ripe plantains to accompany

How to make old Cuban clothes step by step

  1. In a large saucepan, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook until golden brown on all sides. Cover it with water, 2 bay leaves and 3 cloves of garlic (you can add a glass of white wine).
  2. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Cook for about 45 minutes, 1 hour. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking broth. Let the meat cool and shred with a fork. Reserve.
  3. In a large frying pan with a little oil, add the onion, pepper and 3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook until the ingredients are tender.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, the cup of meat cooking broth, the cumin, the paprika and the bay leaves. Mix and cook for about 15 minutes uncovered.
  5. Reduce the heat and add the shredded meat, integrate so that the meat is well coated with the sauce. Cover and cook for about 15 more minutes. Season to taste.
  6. Serve hot Cuban ropa Vieja over white rice and fried plantains.
how to make old Cuban clothes

Source: www.paulinacocina.net

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