Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja: A Flavorful Latin American Classic

Enjoy a delicious and hearty meal with this traditional shredded beef and corn cake recipe

Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja
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Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja is a very popular Cuban, Colombian, and Latin American recipe. This classic beef dish is very easy and is great over rice, patacones, and arepas. It can also be used as a filling for tacos or empanadas.

Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja is a classic Latin American dish that has been enjoyed for generations. While it is most commonly associated with Cuba, it is also popular in other areas of the region, such as Puerto Rico, Panama, and even the Philippines. Ropa Vieja is Spanish for “old clothes”, which is how the dish got its name. Legend has it that a poor man in Cuba didn’t have enough money to buy meat for his family, so he shredded his old clothes and cooked them with vegetables. The dish became so popular that it has become a staple in many Latin American households.

The recipe for Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja calls for flank steak that is slowly cooked in water with salt and pepper until it is tender and easy to shred. Once the meat is cooked, it is shredded by hand or with a fork and then cooked again in a saucepan with hogao and tomato paste. Hogao is a Colombian Creole sauce that is made from a combination of onions, tomatoes, garlic, and other spices. It adds a rich and savory flavor to the dish that complements the shredded beef perfectly.

Arepa con Carne Desmechada, or corn cakes with shredded beef, is a popular way to serve Ropa Vieja. Arepas are a traditional corn-based food that is eaten throughout Latin America. They are similar to a corn cake or cornbread and can be eaten on their own or as a side dish. To make Arepa con Carne Desmechada, you simply top a cooked arepa with the shredded beef and then add diced avocado and plantains for a touch of sweetness. This delicious and hearty meal is perfect for lunch or dinner and is sure to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

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A Brief History of the Iconic Cuban Dish.

The origins of Ropa Vieja are somewhat disputed, but it is generally believed to have originated in Cuba. According to legend, a poor farmer didn’t have enough money to buy meat for his family, so he shredded his old clothes and cooked them with vegetables. The dish was so delicious that it became a popular staple in Cuban households and eventually spread to other Latin American countries. While the story may be apocryphal, there is no doubt that Ropa Vieja has become a beloved and iconic dish throughout Latin America.

In recent years, Ropa Vieja has become increasingly popular in the United States and other parts of the world. It is a delicious and hearty meal that is perfect for cold winter days or anytime you want a comforting and satisfying dish. While the recipe for Ropa Vieja may vary from region to region, the basic ingredients remain the same: slow-cooked and shredded beef cooked in a savory sauce with a variety of vegetables and spices.

Overall, Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja is a classic Latin American dish that is sure to please even the most discerning palate. Whether you prefer to serve it with arepas, rice, or another side dish, the rich and savory flavor of shredded beef cooked in hogao is sure to satisfy. Try this delicious and hearty meal today and discover why Ropa Vieja has become such a beloved staple in Latin American cuisine.


Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja

Ropa vieja is one of the national dishes of Cuba, but is also popular in other areas of the region such as Puerto Rico and Panama, in Spain, and in the Philippines. It consists of shredded or pulled stewed beef with vegetables
Course Main Course
Cuisine Colombian, Latin American
Keyword Beef
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 4 People
Author Mike Gonzalez


Arepa con Carne Desmechada (Arepa with Shredded Meat)

  • 4 Arepas cooked, corn cakes
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 1 large Plantain ripe, peeled and diced
  • 1 avocado diced
  • Cilantro fresh for garnish

Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef)

  • 2 pounds Flank Steak
  • 9 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground Pepper
  • ½ cups Hogao
  • 1 teaspoon Tomato Paste


Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef)

  • In a pot, place the flank steak, water, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
  • Measure 1 cup of the liquid used to cook the meat. Set aside.
  • Remove the beef from the pot, let it cool and shred with a fork or your hands.
  • In a saucepan, place the shredded beef, hogao, tomato paste and 1 cup of beef liquid. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Arepa con Carne Desmechada (Arepa with Shredded Meat)

  • In a medium skillet, melt the butter and add the diced plantains. Brown the plantains for about 3 minutes and set aside.
  • Place an arepa on a serving plate, top with the carne desmechada and add avocado and plantain.
  • Sprinkle fresh cilantro and serve.



Support the Hispanic Food Network

The Canary Islands in Spain have a version of Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja with potato cooked in the pot with the beef and vegetables, not needing to be eaten with rice cooked separately. It is a very traditional dish for the islands that many restaurants offer on the menu. The most common preparation in mainland Spain involves shredding and frying the leftover meat from cocido with paprika and chickpeas.

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