We find the best recipes so you don't have to!

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja Stuffed Sweet Potato

Ropa Vieja Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato

Little fact about me that everyone might not know is… I LOVE BRAISED MEAT. I mean, I freaking love it. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s moist (I know how people love that descriptor), it falls apart effortlessly, it melts in your mouth, and it’s pure meaty rich delicious goodness. If I’m at a restaurant and braised meat is on the menu in any capacity, I’m set. Which everyone appreciates, because otherwise I typically have an annoying case of what I’ve dubbed “menu anxiety” that prevents me from making any quick decisions. I LOVE IT. Ok, moving on.

For those of you who aren’t quite sure what braised meat is, let’s indulge ourselves in some fun food knowledge, shall we? Braising is a cooking technique whereby food (most often, meat of some kind) is quickly browned over higher heat in fat, then covered and slowly stewed in liquid till lusciously falling apart (uuughhhh so good).

One of my favorite forms of braised meaty goodness  (that just so happens to be HEALTHY. SCORE.) is the Cuban fav, Ropa Vieja. Ropa Vieja literally means “old clothes”, which just makes you want to dive right into it, doesn’t it? Maybe not. Well, don’t worry. This hearty dish of shredded beef and vegetables doesn’t taste like worn out polyester. The combination of tender shredded beef, peppers, and onions is full of flavor and surprisingly light (for braised meat, anyways). This classic Cuban dish is typically served alongside black beans and rice and fried plantains, but let’s switch things up a bit. Today, I’m serving my Ropa Vieja inside of a baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt and torn basil. Because cilantro is GROSS and tastes like soap. And I had basil in my backyard. LET’S DO DIS.

Ropa Vieja Stuffed Sweet Potato

What You’ll Need:

  • Large skillet or sauté pan
  • Slow Cooker
  • Coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, or food processor (anything to finely grind your spices)
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Tongs
  • Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs beef flank steak
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1 ½ tsp whole cumin seeds (toasted and ground)
  • ½ tsp whole coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sweet potato per person
  • Greek yogurt
  • Basil

Instructions:

  1. In a dry skillet, toast cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat. Do yourself a favor and don’t multitask during this step. You’ll walk away and the spices will be burned. Stay with them and move them around constantly until they are fragrant. This releases the oils in the spices and brings out a deeper flavor.
  2. In your pulverizer of choice, grind your spices up into a powder and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, turn the heat up to medium high and add your coconut oil.
  4. Liberally salt both sides of your flank steak, and when the pan is brought up to temperature, place the flank steak in the pan to sear on both sides. ** IMPORTANT: Once you put the meat in the pan, DON’T MOVE IT. Once the meat hits the pan, it will start to stick. This is GOOD. This means that the meat is developing a crust on the outside which means it’s developing FLAVOR. Also, if you move the steak before the sear has developed, the meat will tear, and that just isn’t cute. Patience is a virtue. Once your steak easily comes away from the pan, you can flip it. Until then, start prepping your veg and chill out ** Once seared on both sides, set aside.
  5. Chop onion to a medium dice, mince your garlic, and julienne your green pepper. WOAH, WHAT?! DICE: easiest way—cut onion in half lengthwise after cutting off both ends and the outer layer with all that papery stuff. Flat side down, make 3-4 vertical cuts lengthwise into the onion, without cutting all the way through to the end. Then, make a few horizontal cuts lengthwise (again, not cutting all the way to the end). Lastly, make vertical cuts perpendicular to the first vertical cuts. There you have it. The easy way to chop an onion. I’ll make a video on that at some point. MINCE: very fine chop. Smash the clove to remove the skin easily, then smash again to smoosh the clove and make it easier to chop. Or use a garlic press. JULIENNE: cutting into strips. First, cut lengthwise around the pepper without cutting through the stem. Twist the pepper halves apart (stem and seeds should stay with only one side). Rip off stem with seeds, cut off the ribs (white parts) and discard any seed stragglers. Cut into strips.
  6. Add beef broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, onion, bell pepper, garlic, toasted ground spices, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, and a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper to your slow cooker and stir to combine.
  7. Add your flank steak, turn heat to high setting, and cook for about 5-6 hours, or until meat EASILY pulls apart from itself.
  8. Once your meat is about an hour away from being finished, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place your sweet potato (washed, dried, and pierced a few times with a fork to release steam—no potatoes exploding in your oven today! Not today!) directly onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the skin has darkened and a fork/knife easily goes in and out of the thickest part of the potato.
  9. Before you serve, taste your food and adjust seasoning if need be. I always salt my food throughout the cooking process, but with crockpot cooking, you don’t really have many opportunities to. So, it’s best to be conservative at the beginning. You can always add, not subtract. It will probably need more salt, so don’t be afraid to add it. Salt is your friend, not foe.
  10. Crack open that potato, put some of that delicious Ropa Vieja into the center, and top with a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt and some torn basil.

YUM—braised meat heaven. Braised meat can be incredibly rich and decadent (which I LOVE SO MUCH), but I’d be a whale if I didn’t expand my horizons and add some healthier options into my repertoire. Healthy food comes in all shapes and sizes, and I love this dish because it shows how creative you can be with fresh ingredients, and that health food doesn’t have to taste like health food. I’m a CrossFitter and have, in the past few years, been actively trying to make healthier decisions, not just for myself, but so that I can teach my family to make the right decisions someday as well. I commend those who can eat the same healthy foods, prepared the same way, over and over aaand oooover again (my sweet boyfriend… ahem…), but I think this recipe is just as easy to make as those other healthy meals, and it keeps things exciting! Best of all is, you can keep reheating this and it won’t dry out, and as it sits it just keeps getting better! So, put this in your meal prep one week! I challenge you! I promise it fits just as easily into Tupperware. Until next time, people…Stay hungry!

More great recipes and ideas

Don't miss a thing, get the free newsletter
with all the latest ideas!


 

Comments are closed.