Photography and styling by Melina Hammer.
In my early twenties, I ended up living in a studio apartment in the same building that I grew up in. It was a surreal experience, almost a time loop, and living there allowed me to reconnect to some of the places I went to as a little kid. One of those places was La Taza del Oro, a very special lunch counter that opened in 1947 and sadly closed in 2015. La Taza del Oro was one of New York’s iconic Puerto Rican restaurants, and it served dishes from other cultures too, including traditional Cuban ropa vieja (which translates to “old clothes,” an evocative description of the texture of the shredded beef). Making this version at home helps me keep my memories of it alive.
- Preheat your oven to 300ºF.
- Place the onion, garlic, bell peppers, diced tomatoes with their juice, mustard, raisins, and olives (hang onto that brine for later) in a large, heavy ovenproof pot (such as a Dutch oven). Mix well to combine.
- Sprinkle the chuck roast pieces all over with the salt, black pepper, and cumin. Nestle the pieces into the mixture in the pot. Cover the pot tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
- Roast the beef until it’s incredibly tender and shreds easily when you poke at it with tongs or a couple of forks, about 3 hours. Add the olive brine to the pot and use those tongs or forks to shred the beef directly in the pot (discard any large pieces of fat as you work) and mix it together with the juices. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm with cilantro sprinkled on top (if you’d like).
Excerpted from Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food by Julia Turshen. Harper Wave, 2021. Photography and styling by Melina Hammer.
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