Cuban Pronghorn Ropa Vieja

 by Courtney Nicolson

I lived for 9 years in New York City. Yes, I barely believe it myself looking back now! That is where my love of international cuisine was born, and strangely enough, also where I took up hunting. I remember my first time eating Cuban food at a restaurant in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens called "Cubana Cafe". I ordered a dish called Ropa Vieja, not knowing anything about this dish, and wondering how the briny olives would work with the rest of the ingredients. I fell in love with this simple comfort food dish, which is a national dish of Cuba. 

With a freezer full of pronghorn roasts from my two harvests this year I needed some inspiration for a low and slow recipe that would keep well as leftovers in the fridge for the rest of a busy week. My mind drifted back to that cafe in Brooklyn and I tried my best to re-capture that dish with wild pronghorn antelope in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where I now live. 

 

Ingredients:

2 pounds flank steak or any kind of roast. (I used 2 pronghorn football roasts) 
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (I like to use poblano or Anaheim instead)
1 tablespoon iodized salt
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sweet paprika (or regular paprika, not smoked
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup dry white wine (anything will do, I had Chardonnay on hand)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup pitted green olives sliced lengthwise (traditionally pimento stuffed but I prefer Castelvetrano Pitted Green Olives)
1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar


Chopped cilantro, white rice, and black beans (for serving)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275°

1. Thoroughly dry roast with paper towels. I prefer to brown meat unseasoned, but salt and pepper if you'd like.

2. Heat oil on high in an ovenproof pan, a lidded enameled cast iron works best.

3. Brown meat on all sides, move to plate.

4. Cook onion, bell peppers, and salt until softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pan, until vegetables are brown.

5. Add white wine and cook while stirring until evaporated.

6. Add paprika, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir.

7. Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon.

8. Bring to a boil and cook for 8 minutes.

9. Place roast into liquid and add bay leaf. 

10. Cover and move to oven.

11. Cook for 3 hours or until meat is easily shredded with fork.

12. Remove meat from liquid, discard bay leaves, let cool 15 minutes.

13. Use 2 forks (or these awesome bear claws!) to shred meat.

14. Return meat to pan, add  olives and vinegar.

15. Serve with cilantro, rice, and beans.