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Vidalia Onion-Braised Flank Steak

This recipe is inspired by the traditional Cuban dish ropa vieja (Spanish for "old clothes"). Traditionally served with potatoes and chickpeas, you can also try it with rice, quinoa or corn tortillas. Using sweet onions keeps the flavor subtle.

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Nutritional Bonus: Fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free, Vidalia onions from the American South offer impressive amounts of vitamin C and chromium, which is vital in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and insulin .

Video: Cooking with Onions

Try not to cry! Watch as Chef Jo explains the different kinds of onions you find in the supermarket and how best to use them.

Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
130 min
160 min


  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 Vidalia or other sweet onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin, divided
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak, trimmed of visible fat
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups boxed diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa, optional
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, optional

Pickled onions

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice 4 limes
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 9 x 11-inch baking dish, add carrot, bay leaves and half of onions. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine garlic, 3 tsp oregano, 2 tsp cumin, salt, black pepper and 2 tsp oil. Rub mixture all over steak, gently pressing seasoning into meat.
  3. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large or cast iron skillet on medium-high. Sear steak for 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and place into baking dish with onions. Pour broth into baking dish, cover tightly with foil and braise in oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until meat is tender and pulls apart easily with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, return skillet to heat and add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan. Add remaining half of onions and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to scrape up seasoning from bottom of pan, until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir green pepper into onions and cook for 3 minutes more. Transfer vegetables to a bowl, set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Allow steak and braising liquid to cool, uncovered, in pan for 20 minutes. Remove steak from broth and set aside in a bowl. Strain braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on solids to release most of broth. Discard solids and reserve broth. (You should be left with 3 cups liquid.) Shred steak into 1/2-inch-wide strips and set aside.
  6. In a large 6-qt saucepan, bring broth to a boil on medium-high. Continue to boil until broth reduces by one-third, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add steak, onion-pepper mixture, tomatoes, remaining 1 tsp oregano, remaining 1 tsp cumin and cayenne to reduced broth. Stir until combined and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with additional salt and black pepper.
  7. While steak is simmering, prepare Pickled Onions: In a small sealable plastic bag, combine onion, lime juice and salt. Remove all air from bag, seal and allow onions to marinate at room temperature, turning bag over occasionally, until onions are softened, about 15 minutes.
  8. To serve, ladle steak mixture into 6 soup bowls over rice, if desired. Top with pickled onions, dividing evenly, and a dollop of yogurt, if desired.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 1/4 cups
  • Calories 400
  • Carbohydrate Content 35 g
  • Cholesterol Content 37 mg
  • Fat Content 13 g
  • Fiber Content 5 g
  • Protein Content 33 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 3 g
  • Sodium Content 242 mg
  • Sugar Content 7 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 1 g