Foreign Flavours – Colombia: Ropa Vieja/Carne Desmechada & Plantain Empañadas + Avocado Sauce

Why  settle for ropa vieja when you can have ropa vieja empañadas? Right? Right!

I stumbled upon Erica Dinho’s while looking into carne desmechada (ropa vieja tends to refer to the Cuban version, apparently). The avocado sauce she served alongside her RV empañadas drew me in, so off I went in search of my second plantain for the Foreign Flavours series! ^^



  • 12 empañada discs (Erica has a recipe for these too, which I used. This would make for a great pie crust as well if you leave out the salt!)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 ripe plantain, peeled, diced and fried (NOTE: I boiled mine; worked just as well)

For the ropa vieja

  • 2 pounds/1kg of flank steak
  • 8 cups water
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (NOTE: tinned chopped tomatoes work best. I added fresh tomatoes first, and they didn’t add enough flavour, imo.)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp tomato paste

For the avocado sauce

  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves


  1. In a pot, place the flank steak, water, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
  2. Measure 1 cup of the liquid used to cook the meat and set aside.
  3. Remove the beef from the pot, let it cool and shred with a fork or your hands. I hope this is what it’s supposed to look like:

    IMG_7421 (Small)

  4. In a saucepan, place the olive oil, onions, bell pepper, tomato and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cumin, shredded beef and the 1 cup of beef liquid. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. To assemble the empanadas: Place a spoonful of the ropa vieja and diced plantains on the center of the empanada discs.
  6. Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the beaten egg. This will help them seal better and keep the filling from leaking while baking.
  7. Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges. Use a fork to help seal the empanadas, or use your fingers to twist the edges. Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg, which will give them a golden color when they bake.

    NOTE: I used my pasty mold (one of my 2014 Christmas gifts begging to be used for the first time) for this bit. Behold, my first ever homemade empañada-to-be:

    IMG_7422 (Small)

  8. Chill the empanadas for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
  9. To make the avocado sauce: place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (NOTE: This avocado sauce is exquisite. Creamy, soft, a little sour but not too much. Venturing into Mexican snacks, this would make a great dip for tortilla crisps as well. I’d choose this over guacamole any day.)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. elliebleu says:

    I never even thought of serving empañadas with an avocado sauce. I can’t wait to try it with my black bean and plantain ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. flandriaman says:

      You won’t regret it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s