Thursday, March 3, 2011

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja

As my children get older, our schedule gets fuller. We are still trying to keep the extras minimal--soccer in the fall, swimming in the spring/early summer. With spring here (yep, we live in Texas, spring comes early!), swim lessons have started in preparation for swim team in May. We generally get home from swim lessons around 5:20 and we eat at 6:00--no small task for me. Even if I had a 30 minute meal to make, having 30 minutes in that time frame which didn't involve care for the boys (they're the younger two), is a stretch.

Thus, I am becoming re-acquainted with my slow cooker again. We also have taken a CSA break this month to get the cabbage and turnips that have multiplied in my fridge cleaned out.
I am also in the process of cleaning last years quarter cow out of the freezer--mostly stew meat and round cutlets left. I am dreaming of a new quarter in April/May, so I need to get rid of the old one first. Stew meat lends itself perfectly to slow-cooker. Round cutlets lends itself perfectly to absolutely nothing, I've found. That doesn't prevent me from trying to use my cutlets.

The goal: To consume round cutlets in the most pleasing, make ahead way possible.
The plan: Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
Analysis: Awesome slow cooker meal which doesn't taste like a bland slow-cooker meal. Round cutlets don't lend themselves well to ropa vieja either, but with the overall taste of the dish, the round cutlets can be ignored, if not entirely forgiven.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
adapted slightly from Food and Wine

1 2-lb flank steak, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 4 pieces
28 oz diced tomatoes, with juice
2 medium (1 large) bell pepper, thinly sliced--a variety of colors is nice if possible
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 c green olives
2 T capers, drained
3 T cilantro, coarsely chopped

Season the flank steak with salt and pepper. Set aside. In the slow cooker, combine tomatoes and juice, pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and bay leaf. Add the steak and cover. Cook on high for 5 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Transfer meat to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes (to seal the juices). While the meat rests, stir in the olives, capers, and cilantro. Use shred meat, using 2 forks is the easiest way. Return the meat to the sauce. Season as needed with salt and pepper. Serve over rice and sprinkle with additional cilantro, if desired.

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