60 – Slow-Cooked Chicken Ropa Vieja

I’m so glad that I simply have to write the title, instead of actually trying to pronounce it for you all. I pride myself in being somewhat cultured, knowing the basic rules for pronunciation in at least some foreign languages. In Spanish, just like as with ropa vieja,  j’s have an “h” sound, and r’s are rolled – at least I think they are… They are, right? Unfortunately, there are many things that I know and understand, and yet can’t actually do while under pressure – or at all, in some cases; rolling my r’s is one of them. On a related note: why do basketball nets have to be so tall? But I, digress…

This recipe has been in the making for a while. Ever since I was introduced to ropa vieja – or “Old Clothes” – while in Cuba, my wife has been asking me to make it. Though she’d been pressing for a pork version, I chose chicken instead for two reasons: pulling pork is more time consuming than chicken (more fat to remove), and chicken breasts are leaner (whether the fat is removed or not).

I consulted a few different recipes, but just for the general idea. It ended up being very tasty, with a mild spice that wasn’t overwhelming (no running for a glass of milk), but was definitely noticeable. As the final product contained a fair amount of liquid, I served it by retrieving a tong-full at a time, shaking off the excess liquid, then tossing it into a tortilla; this gave it a very rustic feel, which was a fun added bonus. Had it been served over rice, I would have included more liquid while serving, letting the rice soak up that extra flavour. The tortillas – with a little sour cream – were an amazing addition though, if not a little messy… I ended up slicing my tortilla open of photos, so that the most important part wouldn’t be hidden away.

Anyways, the recipe:

Slow-Cooked Chicken Ropa Vieja

Ingredients:2015-06-29 19.05.55

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, whole
  • 1 large can (28 fl. oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin and halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp. chipotle powder
  • salt and pepper
  • tortillas (for serving; optional)
  • sour cream (for serving; optional)
  • rice (for serving; optional)


  • Toss everything into a slow cooker, up to and including the heaping teaspoon of chipotle powder. Season with salt and pepper, making sure to not go overboard. Remember: you can’t taste-test when there’s raw chicken involved.
  • Mix up everything well, then set the slow cooker for 4 hours.
  • Once the slow cooker is finished, remove the chicken breasts and shred them with two forks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker, mix, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve on a bed of rice or in a tortilla, with a dollop of sour cream. If having it with rice, be sure to include some of the delicious the ropa vieja was cooked in; if serving in a tortilla, you’ll want to remove the ropa vieja with some tongs or a slotted spoon, allowing most of the excess sauce to drip back into the slow cooker.
  • Enjoy! (And then leave a comment on this post, telling me how delicious it was).

Serves 4-5

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slow cooked chicken ropa vieja


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