Honestly, before a few months ago, I had never heard of flap steak. but it was cheap and that was a good enough reason for me to try it. I assumed I would have to stew it for ages, like most cheap cuts. However, flap steak has quickly risen to my top favorite steak because it is super versatile. It can both be cooked fast (in a pan or on the grill) or slow (in a stew).
If you decide to go with the fast route, make sure to cook the steak well. Medium or rare steak is going to be mushy. Strange but true. A beautifully crispy steak outside with reward you with a flavorful interior. If, instead, you decide to go for the slow route, try a heat wave friendly solution: the slow cooker. Let it run all night or while you are at work. You will return to a flavorful bright dish that makes you smile.
It seems infinitely adaptable as we ate it several times over the week with polenta or tortillas. I could imagine over mashed potatoes or egg noodles in the winter months as well. I bet it would make an awesome burrito filling, which you could store in the freezer for those days when you forget to make a lunch.
The original reipe used fresh tomatoes and chilli peppers. As I had neither, I used canned tomatoes and salsa. It had some kick but wasn’t overwhleming. If you like spice though, feel free to turn it up and let me know how it is!
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
Adapted from Food and Wine
1 lb flap steak, quartered
1 c crushed tomatoes
2/3 c salsa
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 c pitted green olives
2 tbsp capers, drained
3 tbsp cilantro
Season the steak with salt and pepper.
In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except olives, capers, and cilantro. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours, until the meat is tender.
Remove meat from slow cooker to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Return meat to slow cooker.
Add olives, capers, and cilantro. Season to taste. Serve over rice, in tortillas, or, as I did, over polenta.