Carne ripiada (shredded beef), with some variations, is known throughout Latin America with many different names. The base is an inexpensive cut of beef (flank, for example), cooked over low heat for a long time until it becomes very tender. Some vegetables are also added to the mix.
The Dominican carne ripiada is pretty close to its Venezuelan cousin carne mechada (carne mechada is something else in the DR) and the famous Cuban ropa vieja, which translates into “old clothes” in English (a sure entry into the Cuban version of foods with odd names)
And it’s time to make a confession: I rarely ever eat meat. And no, I am not a vegetarian.
You see, a good Serrano makes my heart sing. And since my avoiding meat is just a matter of taste, not of ethics or religion, I occasionally eat meals that contain meat (which I just avoid), in the interest of not inconveniencing my hosts when people don’t know of my food choices.
The funny thing is that my husband is absolutely carnivorous, and I have no qualms about cooking meat (within reason), but I go about it by memory, intuition and my husband’s taste buds. Whenever I add meat recipes to our site you can be almost certain that my husband – or Aunt Ilana’s – are around to approve. By the way, Aunt Ilana doesn’t eat meat either, neither of us did by the time we met. It was just a coincidence.
My spousal unit did not grow up eating meat cooked this way, he went mostly for the “big, bloody chunk of cow” to go with his potatoes, but he has come to be a huge fan of this method of cooking beef, which means that he can enjoy other cuts of meat, and get a serving of veggies with it, all in a delicious package. If you haven’t tried it, do so, you too will become a fan.
Venezuela has carne mechada, Cuba has ropa vieja, and Dominican Republic has carne ripiada (shredded beef): juicy, flavorful and easy to make.
- 2 lbs [0.9 kg] of beef (flank, shank, chuck, or skirt)
- 1 teaspoon of salt (more if needed)
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper (more if needed)
- 1 sprig of thyme (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- 1 large red onion cut into slices
- ½ tablespoon of crushed (or sliced) garlic
- 1 cup of carrots cut into large cubes (optional)
- ½ cup of peppers cut into cubes
- 2 cups of tomatoes, cut into large cubes
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- Season beef with a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, thyme and oregano.
- In a large cast aluminum or cast iron pot heat half the oil. Sear the meat throughout (be careful with splatters, you are trying to cook the beef, not yourself).
- Add enough water to cover the meat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, simmer over low heat until the meat is very tender (it will start to flake). Rotate the meat every once in a while so it cooks uniformly. Add water if it becomes necessary so it doesn't get completely dry. By the end you should have left about 3 cups of liquid. Cool down to room temperature
- Once the meat is cool enough to handle, cut into slices no more than 2 inches wide and shred the meat with your hands.
- In a heavy saucepan heat the remaining oil and cook and stir the onions until they become transparent. Add the garlic, carrots and peppers and simmer over very low heat for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are tender.
- Add the tomato sauce and the meat and the remaining liquid from boiling the meat.
- Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat, or until all the vegetables are cooked through. Taste and season with salt to taste if needed.
- Serve with your choice of rice.