steak skewers

Steak Skewers With Peruvian-Style Marinade… So Good!

You’ve got to try these Peruvian-style steak skewers for your next barbecue! Tender sirloin tidbits, lightly charred and bursting with flavor, smothered with a zesty pepper sauce and placed on a bed of fried potato slices… it’s just a party waiting to happen! 

Skewers, known as pinchos in Latin cooking, are fun party food and the stuff of epic summer barbecues. Serve these as tapas or as a main course. Feeding a large crowd? You can add some chicken skewers to the mix and you have yourself quite the feast!

steak skewers

Peruvian Lomo Saltado Marinade

What makes these skewers so delicious is the marinade that’s inspired by a very popular Peruvian dish, called Lomo Saltado (stir fried sirloin). The traditional Peruvian stir fry is made with filet mignon or sirloin strips with onions, tomatoes and french fries served over white rice. You’re probably thinking, “rice and french fries?” The first time my daughter and I tried this dish we thought the potatoes were unnecessary, but these spuds soak up all the sauce and become an integral part of this dish!

Now let’s talk about the sauce… the ingredients in traditional Lomo Saltado include soy sauce, ginger, aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow peppers) and vinegar, which are all included in my marinade. My version also includes fried potato slices because it’s a delivery vehicle for the saucy goodness. The potatoes soak up all the juices from the skewers, which is similar to the french fries soaking up the stir fry sauce. You can also make white rice on the side, if you want the full experience. 

steak skewers

Top Your Steak Skewers with Zesty Aji Sauce

But the marinade is just the beginning! The mix of tamari sauce and aji amarillo in the marinade really intensifies the umami goodness of these steak skewers. But as good as it is on its own, you can kick it up a notch by topping your steak skewers with a tangy table sauce made with peppers, parsley, vinegar and onions. 

This is similar to the ají de la casa sauce served with skewers at a local Peruvian restaurant me and the kids love, Pisco y Nazca. I haven’t cracked the code on all that is in this sauce, but my version gives the steak skewers that same intense, tangy, peppery flavor that makes me want to drink up the sauce. 

Peruvian peppers are the main ingredient in this sauce, but I didn’t have fresh ones on hand, so I improvised with jalapeño and Fresno peppers instead. The other ingredients include garlic, shallots, olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomatoes, and lots of finely chopped parsley. You can also use it as a marinade, like I did in my Peruvian-style chicken skewers

steak skewers

BBQ Good Times

There’s just something so fun about hanging out in your patio or backyard grillin’ and chllin’ with friends! While the skewers are cooking you can enjoy a little sangria or mojitos with tapas. In Miami, we can do this year-round, but we tend to avoid the summer months (too hot to handle!).

I hope you give these steak skewers a try for you next backyard party. Then, tell me all about it!

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Steak Skewers With Peruvian-Style Marinade 

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 9
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 54 minutes
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: grilling
  • Cuisine: Peruvian


Try these steak skewers made with sirloin, lightly charred and topped with a zesty pepper sauce and placed on a bed of fried potato slices.



4 lbs top sirloin

2 tablespoons crushed garlic

½ cup olive oil

½ cup tamari (or use low-sodium soy sauce)

⅓ cup red wine vinegar

1 inch piece of ginger (about 1 tablespoon grated)

1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon oregano

Wooden bamboo skewers

Aji Sauce

1 cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup cherry tomatoes, salted and roughly chopped

½ bushel flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, with stems removed

½ Fresno pepper, finely diced and seeded (you can use more if you like spicy)

½ Jalapeño pepper, finely diced and seeded

1 shallot, finely diced

2 tablespoons crushed garlic, (that’s about one head of garlic, maybe more depending on the size)

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper


Make the Aji Sauce

Roughly chop the cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and drain on paper towels. While the tomatoes are draining, pull out a mixing bowl so you can throw in the ingredients as you prep them.

Wash the parsley and dry with paper towels to remove excess water. Then remove the stems and finely chop. To remove the stems, you can use an herb stem stripper or just pinch the stem as you pull on the leaves with your other hand. Finely chop the parsley and add to the mixing bowl.

Cut the Fresno and jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and finely chop half of each one. Save the rest for later. Throw the diced peppers into the mixing bowl. Make sure to wash your hands after you’ve handled the peppers and do not touch your eyes!

Marinade & Skewers

Mix all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Place the steak chunks in a shallow glass dish or a ziploc bag and cover with the marinade.

Marinate the steak for four hours or overnight. If the steaks are not fully submerged, make sure to turn them halfway through the marinating time.

Soak the skewers in water for at least two hours before grilling.

Grill the Steak

Cut the steak into 2 inch cubes.

Set the grill to the highest heat and let it preheat for at least ten minutes, preferably twenty. Place the skewers in the center. Cook until the meat gets nice and caramelized, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until it’s caramelized. This should take about five to eight minutes, but times will vary based on your grill, so use the times provided as a guide.


Plating Deliciousness: I love to serve these skewers on a bed of fried potato slices. Place 3-4 potato slices in a row and top with one skewer. Spoon the aji sauce on top and you’re good to go. I usually serve these on a cutting board or long serving platter. It’s quite impressive!

Serving Suggestions: Serve these skewers with a tossed salad or grilled veggies.


  • Serving Size: 8

Keywords: pinchos, steak skewers, beef skewers, steak pinchos

Skirt Steak Churrasco

Grilled Skirt Steak Chimichurri Makes A Great BBQ

Hands down, grilled skirt steak churrasco with Chimichurri is a crowd-pleasing BBQ combo! Skirt steak is an excellent cut of beef to grill. It cooks quickly and packs a great taste, especially if you use chimichurri to marinate the steak. Unlike other steaks, skirt steak really absorbs the marinade because it’s thin enough to penetrate, and the meat has a lot of ridges for the marinade to cling to.

Skirt Steak Churrasco

What is Churrasco Steak

Churrasco is the Spanish and Portuguese name for grilled meat, and it’s a common dish of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.  I had my first churrasco steak at a local steakhouse in Miami that served it with a side of chimichurri sauce, a very popular Argentine sauce served with grilled meats and sausages. It was love at first bite for me!

The cuts of meat commonly used for churrasco are outside skirt steak and flank steak. Inside skirt steak can be used too, but it’s a bit tougher. I use inside skirt sometimes because it’s cheaper and it’s still a good cut. I actually used inside skirt for my grilled skirt steak churrasco recipe and it was delicious! Cook’s Illustrated has a great explanation for why skirt steak should be grilled. 

I used one and a half pounds of skirt steak for this recipe for four hungry people (we should have had some leftovers, but we didn’t). For entertaining, my rule of thumb is a half pound per person.

best chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri Sauce Is The Best Marinade 

This sauce is super easy to make and so versatile and tasty you’ll be putting it on more than just skirt steak chimichurri! I used it to marinade and also added a bit more on top (my son thought it was overkill but he doesn’t understand my chimichurri love). 

Chimichurri sauce is made with finely chopped parsley, olive oil, garlic and vinegar. You can have some flavor variations. My version also has cilantro along with the parsley and uses lemon instead of vinegar. I also had to add a little cumin and smoked paprika because I love that flavor combo too. Here’s a link to my Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce. You can use it as a marinade and a table sauce. Make an extra batch and serve it with plantain chips as the meat is grilling.

Skirt Steak Churrasco

Grill and Party On

Grilled Skirt Steak Churrasco and chimichurri makes for a great BBQ party for summer (or year-round in Miami!). The steaks grill in minutes, so you can spend more time with your guests than your grill. Add some grilled veggies and some good crusty bread to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a party. 

I usually make a pot of Congri Rice to go with this because I’m Cuban, and that’s what we do, and it’s so delicious too! You can make the congri rice in advance and just reheat it when the meat is ready for no-fuss entertaining.

Since we’re just starting the summer, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try out this recipe. I hope you enjoy it to the very last bite!!

Backyard Barbecue Menu Cookbook
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Skirt Steak Churrasco

Grilled Skirt Steak Churrasco With Chimichurri

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 4:15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Meat
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Argentine


Churrasco steak with chimichurri sauce is a popular Argentine barbecue that’s quick and easy to make. It’s the tastiest steak you’ll ever eat. Try it for your next BBQ!



1 1/2 pounds skirt steak (see note)

1/2 recipe of Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce

Salt and Pepper for seasoning


Trim the skirt steak to remove excess fat. 

Salt and pepper the steak and place in a plastic bag with half a recipe of the chimichurri sauce.

Marinate the steak for 4 hours or overnight. 

Heat the grill and while it’s heating, remove the steak from the marinade and dry with paper towels. This will make sure the steak sears instead of steams when added to the grill. 

Grill the steaks for about 5-6 minutes per side depending on thickness and desired doneness. 5 minutes per side should yield medium rare for thick parts (see photo) and medium for thinner parts. Skirt steak is not evenly thick, so it would be helpful to cut the steak into two strips based on thickness and remove the thin strip first. 

Let it rest for 5 minutes, cut and serve with the remaining chimichurri sauce on the side. 


Outside skirt steak is preferable, as it’s more tender. However, inside skirt steak is more economical and will also taste great.


  • Serving Size: 4

Keywords: Churrasco steak, Skirt Steak Churrasco, Churrasco Grilled Steak, Churrasco steak, Argentinian chimichurri steak, Skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, Chimichurri steak marinade, Best steak for chimichurri

beef and cheese empanadas

Easy Beef and Cheese Empanadas

These tasty little beef and cheese empanadas are so easy to make and a great way to savor leftover picadillo. Empanadas are a popular Cuban snack sold at Cuban bakeries and restaurants. You’ll also find them in just about any snack counter in Miami. I love to have these as tapas with a little wine or sangria, but they also work as a snack or light lunch. 

Empanadas Origin

Empanadas are originally from Spain, but you’ll find them in most Latin American cuisines. The term comes from the verb empanar, which means to coat or wrap with bread. 

While empanadas are from Spain, many cultures have a recipe for meat pie. It’s an early version of convenience food. I just love that they are so super easy to make and are a great appetizer, especially served with a little sriracha  aioli on the side. 

Cheesy Beef Picadillo Empanadas

Beef Picadillo Empanadas

My favorite stuffing is spicy ground beef (picadillo), but you can stuff these little hand pies with so many other yummies. The ones you’ll find most often at Cuban bakeries are filled with guava and cream cheese, picadillo, or chicken. This beef and cheese empanada recipe is stuffed with cheese and picadillo because that’s my daughter’s favorite combo. I used a Colby Jack cheese mix because it pairs so well with the spicy ground beef. 

You’ll need about one and a quarter cups of picadillo to make these empanadas. You can use my Authentic Cuban Picadillo recipe. Picadillo is a very popular Cuban dish made of spicy ground beef with olives and served with black beans and rice. It’s the ultimate Cuban comfort food! Make the picadillo for dinner and then use the leftovers to make these cheesy beef picadillo empanadas.   

Empanada Dough

Some people make their own empanada dough, but I’m not one of them. I usually buy the frozen empanada discs that are ready to go. So, I can make these empanadas on a whim, whenever I have some picadillo leftovers. One day when I grow up, I’ll make my own dough. 

cuban meat pie

You Can Fry or Bake Empanadas

I like to bake these beef and cheese empanadas because it’s so much easier than frying. But my daughter loves them fried (of course she would… especially when I’m the one frying them :P). But I must say the dough is definitely crunchier and tastier when you fry them. 

If you’re frying these, you need to make sure you have a good seal on the dough, so the stuffing doesn’t come out and the oil doesn’t seep into the picadillo filling. To do this, you just need to wet the edge of the dough with a little water and then use fork tines to seal the edges. 

If you’re baking the empanadas, add a little egg wash and paprika to the tops before baking. 

Let’s make some empanadas ya’ll!

When I make these, I think of my Abuela Melba. She used to make empanadas for me and my brother. Years later, after I was married, she would make a batch for me and my hubby and call me to come and pick them up. That was a great way to get me to stop by her house often! 

She would always ask me how I liked them and if they were better than my mom’s. That woman loved a little competition! As she got older, her cooking skills started to decline, and her empanadas were a little too greasy with the filling seeping out of the dough. I would still come and pick them up and tell her how good they were, because I knew it pleased her. 

Cooking for us was one of the ways she could communicate my hubby. She didn’t speak any English and Jay didn’t speak any Spanish at that time. So, the empanadas were her way of saying she liked “Jerry” (she could never get his name right!). 

Food is a connector and memory maker. It helps bridge the gap between languages, generations, and cultures. So, the next time you want to connect and love on your peeps, cook up a batch of your signature dish and share it with them.

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Cuban beef and cheese empanadas on a slate board

Cuban Beef Empanada Recipe

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 27
  • Total Time: 52 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: appetizer
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: Cuban


These super tasty, cheesy Cuban beef empanadas are very easy to make and can be fried or baked. They are a perfect way to use up Cuban picadillo leftovers!



1 1/4 cup Authentic Cuban Beef Picadillo

1 1/4 cup Shredded Colby Jack Cheese

1 package of frozen empanada discs (they come 10 to a pack and can be found in the freezer section)

1 egg (for brushing on the baked empanadas)

Paprika for garnish (for baked empanadas)

1 cup oil (if you’re frying)


authentic picadillo recipe

Picadillo: Prepare Cuban Picadillo according to recipe found here. If you’re using leftovers, don’t reheat. We want to use the filling cold. If you made picadillo for this recipe, let it come to room temperature before filling. Otherwise, it will make the dough too soft and it could tear.  Take out the shredded cheese.

Dough: Thaw the frozen dough, it should take about 15 minutes. You can pull apart the discs once they begin to thaw to speed up the process, but be careful not to crack the dough. 

Prep: Flour your working surface so the dough doesn’t stick. Get a little bowl of water for sealing the dough. If you’re baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and beat the egg and set aside. 

beef and cheese empanada

Filling: Add two tablespoons of picadillo and two tablespoons of cheese to one empanada disc. Dip one finger into the water bowl and wet the edges of the dough.

how to seal beef empanada
Fold the dough and seal with fork tines. 

Baking: Brush the empanadas with the egg wash and sprinkle a little paprika on the tops. Bake for 27 minutes or until golden.

how to fry empanadas

Frying: pour oils into a shallow frying pan and heat to about 350 degrees on medium high. Carefully place each empanada into the oil and lower the heat to medium. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes. Take out with tongs and drain on paper towels. 


Cooking time is based on baking the empanadas. If you’re frying, you can shorten the time by about 10 minutes.

You can opt for making all-beef empanadas and leave out the cheese. If you do that, use 1/4 cup of picadillo filling. 

Serve with sriracha aioli. 

Keywords: beef and cheese empanada, beef picadillo empanadas, how to make empanadas, cheesy ground beef empanadas

authentic picadillo recipe

Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe You’ll Love

I absolutely love Cuban picadillo! And what’s not to love? This picadillo recipe has very basic ingredients and comes together in just 30 minutes. And the leftovers have endless possibilities!

What Is Cuban Picadillo?

Picadillo is a very common Latin American dish made with ground beef. Like most Cuban dishes, Cuban picadillo uses a sofrito base of onions, peppers, and garlic sauteed in olive oil. We use it in just about all Cuban cooking. This mix is the Cuban version of Italian soffritto and French mirepoix, which call for onion, carrot, and celery.

Other picadillo ingredients include tomato sauce, cooking wine (vino seco), cumin, and oregano. Some versions throw in fried, cubed potatoes or raisins, or both. My crew likes it simple, so I don’t add these. But can I just say it’s sooo good with raisins? It’s got that sweet and savory thing going on. Maybe when I have an empty nest, I’ll be able to make my picadillo with raisins ?

cuban picadillo

Various Picadillo Meats You Can Use

Most Cuban picadillo recipes call for ground beef, but traditional recipes included a mix of ground beef, pork, and ham. Growing up, Mami used three parts ground beef and one part ground pork to make her picadillo, which is how I made this recipe. But you can make it with all beef. The combination of ground beef and pork gives you a milder, less beefy flavor. But either way, it’s delicious! I’ve even made it with ground turkey (with 7% fat); it’s not a finicky recipe.

Usually, I make it with just ground sirloin, but I wanted to give you the option to try it with the pork. If I’m using a mix of beef and pork, I cook the meat first and drain it since ground pork is a bit fatty. If you’re using all ground sirloin, you don’t need to brown the meat first. You can make the sofrito first and then add the seasonings and the raw meat and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Let it cook for a bit before you add the tomato sauce and other ingredients.

What do you serve with Picadillo? Usually, I serve this dish with rice, black beans, and maduros, which is my ultimate comfort food! My son likes his with white rice and bananas, which is another way Cubans like to eat picadillo.

Now about the leftovers. Picadillo second day is even tastier! It’s the perfect filling for tacos, quesadillas, empanadas, nachos, stuffed peppers and so much more. You can even use it as a base for Shepherd’s Pie. Picadillo is just so easy, flexible and no fuss, I just love it and I hope you do too ❤️ 

There’s a direct link between memory and taste. A 2014 study found that the area of our brain responsible for our taste memories is directly tied to our ability to remember the time and place we ate it. Scientists believe this is a survival mechanism to keep us from eating poisonous things. That’s a very vital reason, but not as poetic as remembering the taste and smell of your grandma’s cookies.  

The reason picadillo, rice, and beans are such comfort food for me is because it takes me back to second-grade me sitting in a small private school in Little Havana. We had just moved to Miami from New York City, and everything was so different, except the picadillo. Mami had placed me in a little school owned by Cubans, and they made home-cooked lunches for us. Wednesdays was picadillo day. And with so many things being different, it was nice to have my favorite dish to help me deal. 

Why do you love certain foods? When you eat it does it take you back to another time and place? That connection between our food and our memories is what Bean Train is all about. I record Mami’s best recipes because I don’t want to lose them. One day in what I hope is a very distant future, I may need a bowl of her Congri to comfort me when I can no longer pick up the phone and speak with her.    

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Cuban Picadillo

Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe You’ll Love

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cuban


This quick and easy Cuban Picadillo recipe is so easy to make and a perfect topping for rice bowls, tacos, empanadas and so much more. 


  • 1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 large onion diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green  olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine (vino seco)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup cubed, fried potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat: Set a large cast-iron skillet on the stovetop on medium heat. You can use a regular stainless steel skillet if you prefer. 
  2. Prep: While you wait for the skillet to get hot, chop the onions and crush the garlic. Measure out the spices. 
  3. Brown the meat: Add the ground sirloin and pork to the skillet and break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the meat until it’s no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and discard the drippings. 
  4. Add the aromatics: Add the olive oil to the pan and saute the onions, pepper, and garlic for about 3-5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the spices and cook one more minute. 
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients: Return the beef to the pan and add the tomato sauce, cooking wine, olives, and capers. 
  6. Add the optional mix-ins: Add the raisins or potatoes, if you want to be a little extra.
  7. Simmer: Cook on medium-low for about 15 minutes. 


Using ground beef only: You can omit the ground pork and use 2 pounds of ground sirloin. In that case, you don’t have to precook the meat. You can sauté your onions, garlic and peppers and add the raw beef when the onions are soft. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon, the same way you would with the beef and pork mixture.

Using ground turkey: It’s also good with turkey. However, if you’re using turkey, replace the tomato sauce with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and double the paprika and oregano. Also, cook for an extra 15 minutes to give the ground turkey a little more time to absorb the flavors. 


  • Serving Size: 4 oz

Keywords: authentic picadillo recipe, picadillo seasoning, authentic Cuban picadillo recipe, beef picadillo, how to cook picadillo

ropa vieja sandwich

Cuban Ropa Vieja Sandwich Appetizer Is Impressive and Simple

Ooh, you are so going to wow your friends with these little shredded beef appetizers, which I’m calling Ropa Vieja Montaditos. They are totally Instagram-worthy and the perfect wine party appetizer! You may not be as excited with the strange-sounding name, but you will once I ‘splain what my little ropa vieja sandwich is all about.

What is a montadito?   

I didn’t just make up the name montadito. This Spanish word describes a particular type of appetizer consisting of a baguette-style bread piled with toppings. The root word means to mount. So, in essence, you’re mounting deliciousness on a bread canvas to create little works of art that won’t last very long on a plate! Trust me, this is the best thing to happen to bread since the invention of the slice. 

Now, montaditos are usually more like little sandwiches served on baguette bread.  My shredded beef appetizer is more like an open-faced ropa vieja sandwich. A little different, but the name totally works.

What is Ropa Vieja?  

Ropa Vieja is a shredded beef stew simmered in a savory tomato sauce. The original recipe migrated to Cuba from Spain, and it’s one of the most popular dishes served at Cuban restaurants in Miami. Ropa Vieja literally means old clothes, which could refer to how it looks. But I found a sweet story online about an old man who had no food for his family, so he cooked his old clothes and prayed over the simmering pot. Then God answered with shredded beef!   

easy tapas recipe

Spanish Tapas Bar and My Montadito Inspiration

So now, let me tell you about my little shredded beef and french bread appetizer made with love. I got the idea for this Spanish tapas recipe after visiting a local tapas bar, Bulla Gastrobar. Bulla, pronounced bu-ya, means noise in Spanish. And it was noisy, but it was a good noise. Some of the bu-ya was me smacking my lips over the tapas menu. Tapas are savory little bites served with drinks at Spanish bars (tapas bars), in case you’re wondering. So many Spanish vocabulary words today!  

As I was drooling over the menu, I noticed this fantastic little dish pass right by me. I had not seen anything like it before! The dish was a montadito. I ordered one for the table and soon was digging into a little slice of french baguette bread piled high with brisket, tomato marmalade, guindilla pepper, and tetilla cheese. As soon as I tasted my little brisket montadito, I was already planning to make my own version with Cuban ropa vieja.   

Allow me to present my own montadito creation with ropa vieja, sweet plantains (maduros) , melted gouda cheese, and pickled peppers. Oh, so yummy and perfect for a tapas party, for brunch, or for lunch or dinner, served with wine, beer, or sangria.  

Shredded beef appetizers

These are super easy to make if you have ropa vieja leftovers. If you don’t’, make the ropa vieja first and enjoy that for dinner, making sure to save a little for the montaditos on day 2. Ropa vieja is usually served over rice with fried sweet plantains called maduros. So save some maduro leftovers too!  

Once you have your ropa vieja and maduros leftovers, the rest is pretty much assembly and comes together very quickly.  

If you like this recipe, you’ll want to check out my Smoked Salmon Avocado Toasts, they are an easy brunch recipe that requires no cooking 😉

I hope these inspire you to make your own little bread canvases! If you do, share them with me. I’d love to try them too!  ¡Buen provecho! 

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French bread appetizer

How to make the Ropa Vieja Montaditos

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 16 1x
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Cuban


Try these impressive little French bread appetizers made with ropa vieja and maduros. They are perfect for a tapas party! They come together quickly and can be assembled and finished later. If you don’t have ropa vieja leftovers, you can get the recipe here and enjoy that for dinner the night before. 


  • 8 oz French baguette (see note)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed  
  • 1/4 cup olive oil  

  • Salt and pepper to taste  

  • 1 cup Cuban ropa vieja leftovers. Here’s the Cuban ropa vieja recipe.

  • ½ cup diced Maduros get the recipe here  

  • 4 slices gouda cheese cut into four each (total of 16) or 1/2 cup shredded gouda cheese  

  • 16 slices of pickled peppers or Manzanilla olives  


  1. Bread: Slice the baguette bread into 1-inch slices (need a total of 16… see note) 
  2. Olive Oil: Mix the olive oil, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Brush olive oil on each side.
  3. Toast: Lightly toast the bread in the toaster oven (or you can use an oven set at 350 degrees) until very a very light golden color. About 2 minutes (you don’t want to over toast because it will be toasted a bit more when you add the toppings. 
  4. Toppings: To each slice, add a tablespoon of Ropa Vieja, a few pieces of diced maduros, and a quarter slice of cheese or a ½ tablespoon of shredded gouda cheese  
  5. Melt: Toast until the cheese melts in the toaster oven or a 350-degree oven. Top with a slice of pickled pepper or an olive  

Serve with beer, wine, or sangria.   


I cut the bread slices to 1 inch but it can be a mouthful once you add the toppings. You could cut just a little shorter and it will save you some calories, too. My best advice is to test with 1 sandwich before you make the rest to see what height works for you. 

Keywords: tapas recipes, spanish tapas recipes, easy tapas recipes, tapas recipes ideas, ropa vieja sandwich, cuban ropa vieja

Cuban Dish Ropa Vieja

Cuban Ropa Vieja Recipe in the Instant Pot

What is ropa vieja? The translation means old clothes, but I don’t know if it’s because old clothes are comfortable, like comfort food. Maybe it’s because you cook it as long as you would boil old clothes back in the day. Either way, my Cuban ropa vieja recipe translates to shredded beef deliciousness! 

Full disclosure, as yummy as this is, it’s not my favorite way to eat shredded beef. I prefer to make vaca frita (fried cow) with the ropa vieja meat, but that’s a post for another day. Ropa Vieja is my hubby’s favorite dish. He usually orders this when we eat out at a Cuban restaurant. Hey, sometimes this gal needs a night off, too! 

I used to make this dish with flank steak, what a newbie mistake! I learned Mami makes it with shoulder London broil, which is way cheaper. You can buy enough to feed a battalion (batallón) or have enough for great leftovers! 

authentic ropa vieja

I think Ropa Vieja is the king of leftovers because it tastes even better the next day, and you can make standout party food like shredded beef quesadillas, shredded beef empanadas, or shredded beef and maduros flatbreads. I love having appetizers for dinner, don’t you? It magically transforms dinner time into party time, especially with a glass of merlot.  

Mami always made ropa vieja in the pressure cooker. But all the cool kids are using the Instant Pot these days, and I wanna be cool, so I switched it up. This ropa vieja recipe’s directions are the same in either the Instant Pot or the pressure cooker. 

Some folks make the Ropa Vieja in the slow cooker, but no matter how many recipes I’ve tried, it’s just not a winner. You really need to simmer the beef at a higher temp to get the sauce to reduce. Otherwise, it’s more like shredded beef soup… not a fan. You could, however, cook the beef in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low and then transfer the beef to the stovetop to finish it.

Ropa Vieja Rice Bowl

You can serve this over rice with twice-fried green plantains (tostones) or fried sweet plantains (plátano maduro). I’m really into rice bowls these days, so I like to try different bowl buddies, like:  

Traditional Cuban: Shredded beef, white rice, sweet plantain bits (maduros), and black beans (or you can use congri rice instead of the rice and beans). 

2nd Generation Cuban: Ropa Vieja, Brown Rice, Roasted Cauliflower, and cilantro. 

Mashed Cuban Bowl: Ropa Vieja, yuca mash, carrot slices, and Brussel sprouts. It’s like a deconstructed Cuban shepherd’s pie. 

I hope you enjoy this authentic Ropa Vieja recipe and try the other dishes you can make with the leftovers.

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Ropa Vieja Recipe

Cuban Ropa Vieja

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Instant Pot, Beef, Cuban
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Cuban


This shredded beef dish is one of the most popular dishes served at Cuban restaurants and a family favorite at my  house. It’s typically served with white rice and fried maduros. 


  • 2 lbs shoulder London Broil (Falda de Paleta)  
  • 1 medium onion, minced or sliced (your preference, I went with minced)  
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, sliced 
  • 2 tbs olive oil  
  • 16 oz can tomato puree 
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine (vino seco) I love using Artañan Vino Seco. It’s amazing!
  • 1/2 tsp cumin  
  • 1 tsp dried oregano  
  • 3 tbs green Manzanilla olives  
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 


  • Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker Instructions: Cut the meat across the grain in three-inch pieces, add enough water to cover the beef (about 3 cups) and pressure cook for 30 minutes. Reserve the broth. 
  • Let the meat cool and then shred with two forks or by hand. 
  • Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and sauté until onions are tender and translucent for about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for one minute.  
  • Add the tomato puree, cumin, and oregano. Simmer for another minute. Add the wine and simmer for about 8 minutes.
  • Add the beef, salt, and pepper and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, until the sauce thickens and sticks to the beef. Add a little of the reserved broth if needed. 


Slow Cooker Instructions: Cut the meat across the grain into three-inch pieces. Place in a slow cooker with one cup of water and2 bay leaves and cook on high for four hours. 

Stove Top Instructions: Cut the meat across the grain in three-inch pieces simmer on the stovetop for about an hour and a half. 

Serving Suggestions: Serve as a traditional Cuban dish or mix it up with these alternatives.

2nd Generation Cuban: Ropa Vieja, Brown Rice, Roasted Cauliflower, and cilantro.  

Mashed Cuban Bowl: Ropa Vieja, yuca mash, carrot slices, and Brussel sprouts. It’s like a deconstructed Cuban shepherd’s pie.  


  • Serving Size: 8-10

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