It's just terrific when I'm reading along, minding my own (or actually the character's) business and they hit you with food that absolutely needs to be tried. Now! So, it was whilst reading one of my favorite authors' cozy mysteries, Death at the Door, by Carolyn Hart, that I came upon this:
She opened the door and was greeted by a delectable scent. She paused. "Mmm, something smells wonderful."
You see what I mean. That cries out to be made. And, so I did. Unfortunately, my husband has messed up sinuses, so never walks in and says "Mmm, something smells wonderful." Sigh. But, at least I get to savor it the whole time it's cooking. In this case, four hours."Flank steak simmering with onion and bay leaf, soon to be Cuban shredded beef seasoned with sauterne and Burgundy." Max emptied the contents of a bowl into the skillet...
Annie, the heroine, and owner of a mystery book store, is often involved in helping to solve crimes on the island, off the South Carolina coast where she lives with her husband Max (also a good cook). I love that they are happily married, besides being fully developed and interesting characters. So many literary detectives and amateur crime solvers are riddled with angst, messed up and otherwise generally not fun to be around.
Anyway, off I went to procure the necessary ingredients, after searching Google for a righteous sounding recipe. Which I adapted slightly. You might think, 4 hours, oh boy, that's a lot of cooking. But, the nice thing is, you can put it in a slow cooker or skillet on very low, early in the day, and forget about cooking dinner. It's in the pot.
Cuban Ropa Vieja
The recipe makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds beef flank steak
1 cup beef broth
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup red wine (say Burgundy)
1 small onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
PREP: 15 mins COOK: 4 hrs
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the flank steak on each side, about 4 minutes per side.
Transfer beef to a slow cooker. Pour in the beef broth, wine and tomato sauce, then add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, spices, olive oil and vinegar. Stir until well blended. Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours, or on Low for up to 10 hours (if you are using a slow cooker) I used a Le Creuset skillet in the oven at 325F for 4 hours. When ready to serve, shred meat and serve with tortillas or rice.
We really enjoyed this, tender spicy shredded beef, served on rice, with a side of crisp salad greens and creamy dressing. I'm sharing it with the group at Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking.