Today, I have another wonderful family recipe for you. It’s one of my all-time favorite foods (and let me tell you, I’ve tried a lot of food). But today, in return for this treasure of a recipe, I’m going to ask that you do me a favor. Go get to know one of your friends a little bit better, and let them get to know you better. Intentionally strengthen a friendship with someone you don’t naturally get along with. Why this request, you ask? Well, let me explain.
I used to envy watching guys in their friendships – it was so often like watching a band of brothers. They were loyal to each other, almost family. They were real and weren’t afraid to laugh, fight, and, in a way, to claim each other. They would beat their chests and play their stupid games, and the girls would roll their eyes (and do a jealous double-take in their own minds). How could they be so real and unaffected? As a young woman, I watched from the sidelines hoping to one day have that kind of friendship, too. But this year, I’ve discovered sisterhood. I’ve been challenged by a group of women who are both real and intentional in the relationships they create, a roommate who is so open she unknowingly has the power to break down every last defense of the reticent, and best friends who manage to make a difference in my life even from hundreds of miles away. And I’ve never felt anything like this.
To have a community of people that really knows you is as wonderful as it is risky. Yes, there are reasons people keep to themselves. If you ask me, those reasons aren’t good enough. This world needs more community, because community brings challenge, growth, hope. It encourages real love and not just the superficial affectations of the cowardly. So, do yourself a favor, go make a friend if you don’t have one. Start a real friendship with someone you’re only acquaintances with. It will take effort, but it will be amazing. And so you say, “But, Damaris, how can I possibly break the barriers with [insert name of stranger here]?” Easy! Make them some Ropa Vieja, some white rice, and head on over to their side with a homemade Cuban lunch, courtesy of you, their-new-best-friend-to-be.
- 2 lbs good quality flank steak
- 2 quarts of water for boiling
- ⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and white inner cavity removed, sliced into ½ inch slices
- ½ green bell pepper, seeded and white inner cavity removed, sliced into ½ inch slices
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into ½ inch slices
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (fresh, not from a jar, if possible)
- 5 green pimento-stuffed olives (these come in a jar), each sliced into 3 pieces
- 1 tbsp of juice from the olive jar
- 1 lime (just the juice)
- ¾ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp oregano
- Take your flank steak and slice it so that the muscle strands are about 2.5 inches long, the perpendicular cut is about 1.5 inches long, and the meat is about 1 inch tall (refer to image below).
- Place the meat in a pressure cooker, along with the water (the water should cover the meat by at least a ½ inch). Leaving the pot uncovered, turn on the heat and set to high if using a stovetop pressure cooker (or use the "saute" setting if using an automatic pressure cooker).
- As the water begins to boil, you will notice a foam layer will float to the top. Using a spoon, skim the foam off of the top and discard. Once the meat is no longer releasing foam (the water should be boiling), cover the pot and seal the lid.
- If using an automatic pressure cooker, use the "Meat/Stew" setting and set the timer to 25 minutes. If using a stovetop pressure cooker, once the pressure regulator begins to rock back and forth, set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and olives to the skillet. Saute for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Once the 25 minutes have passed, use the quick release method specified by your pressure cooker's manufacturer to release the pressure and unseal the lid.
- Prepare a cutting board or other clean surface. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the water onto the cutting board.
- Using two forks, gradually press down each chunk of meat and separate the forks to opposite sides to dishevel it into strands (it doesn't have to be in completely separate strands - it will finish coming apart in the skillet). Once all the meat is disheveled, sprinkle the lime juice evenly over the meat.
- Evenly sprinkle the salt, black pepper, and oregano over the meat.
- Add the seasoned meat to the skillet with the vegetables and stir to combine. Sprinkle the olive juice evenly over the contents of the skillet. Cover the skillet.
- Turn on the heat and set to medium high. Stirring occasionally, saute the meat about 5 minutes.
- Uncover the skillet. Continue to saute until you notice the meat begins to slightly char (about 5-7 minutes).