Ropa Vieja with Arepas

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Moving from Florida to Texas opens up a whole new world of barbeque and tex-mex, but we do miss the wonderful Cuban food from back at school. This classic dish of slow braised beef over masa arepas satisfies that craving and has become a regular on our recipe rotation.

Cooking spray
2 (1-pound) flank steaks, trimmed or other cut of roast beef
3 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 steak to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining steak.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olives and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Add steaks; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 1/2 hours or until steaks are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

Remove steaks from pan; shred with two forks. Stir shredded beef and cilantro into pan.

original recipe

Arepas

1 1/4 cup white or yellow arepa flour (masarepa)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups hot water
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for frying

Stir salt into arepa flour. Add hot water and mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the melted butter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.Separate dough into four pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball.
Place each ball in between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or two ziplock bags and flatten gently with the bottom of a pot. Arepas should be about 4 inches in diameter and almost an ¾ inch thick. Use your fingers to smooth out any cracks along the edges.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in cast iron skillet on medium heat.
Cook arepas about 5 minutes on each side until a slightly brown crust forms. They should look like an english muffin. If they are browning too fast, lower the heat. Add more butter or oil for subsequent batches as needed.
Place arepas on a cookie sheet and heat for 10 minutes in the oven to finish cooking.


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