Cooking Around the World is officially winding down. We only have four countries left!! I have to say, though, we were absolutely thrilled with Venezuela. I hadn’t had a country from the Americas since Ecuador, and while I’d been enjoying my string of Middle Eastern cuisine, it was nice to have something completely different.
Of all of the meals I have made in this project, I think this may have had the boldest flavors. The beef (with surprise ingredient soy sauce) was fantastic. It was a little bit tangy without being overwhelming, and was balanced out by the rice. And the black beans were different from the typical Mexican beans I make. I’ll admit I was a bit concerned when I first started cooking (the sofrito was the base for both the beef and the beans, and I was afraid everything would taste the same), but my fears were unfounded. The unique spices that went into each element of the dish made for distinct components that all just melded together perfectly! Honestly, if I had to describe this meal stripped down of culinary vocabulary, I would say it’s a Chipotle bowl that’s been kicked up. And if you know me, you know that’s a huge compliment!
Now, I’ll admit I didn’t follow the directions exactly. First, I subbed in jalapenos for the habaneros. The reasoning was twofold: one, I had jalapenos in my fridge that needed to be used; two, habaneros scare me. Also, I baked the plantains instead of frying them. Since my stove only has four burners, something needed to give, and that was the tostones. They were deliciously salty and almost like french fries when they came out of the oven, though, so I don’t think this shortcut was too offensive. Lastly, I just made plain old white rice. As you’ll notice looking at the recipe, it’s quite involved and time consuming. I got tired and lazy and just didn’t feel like putting that much more effort into dinner. Oh well.
I think I’ve made it abundantly clear, but we loved this dinner. Venezuela, you get an A+ for your national dish!
Venezuelan Pabellón Criollo (Shredded Beef with Black Beans)
- For the Beef
- 1 lb boneless chuck roast
- 1 stalk celery
- ½ onion
- ½ bell pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried cilantro
- Water, to cover beef
- Sofrito (2/3 recipe)
- 2 cups reserved cooking liquid
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp dried cilantro
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
For the Beans
- 1 cup dried beans, soaked for 8-12 hours
- 5 cups water
- ½ bell pepper, diced
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- Sofrito (1/3 recipe)
- 1 ½ onions, diced
- 2 jalapenos, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Olive Oil
- In a large pot, place beef, onion, celery, salt, parsley, and cilantro. Cover with water. Cook, covered, on medium heat for 3 – 4 hours, until the beef is cooked and tender. Remove beef to a large bowl, and set aside 2 cups of cooking liquid. You can either discard the rest of the liquid, or save for future use.
- When the beef is adequately cooled, shred using two forks.
- In a medium pot, cook the beans in five cups of water with the diced bell pepper. Cook, covered, for about an hour and a half.
- To make the sofrito, using a large sauce pan, sauté together the onions and jalapenos in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Transfer 1/3 of the sofrito mixture into the black beans, along with the salt and cumin. Stir until incorporated, and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated.
- Place the shredded beef into the sauce pan with the remaining sofrito. Sauté together for about three minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, black pepper, cilantro, and soy sauce, along with about a cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Cook for fifteen – twenty minutes more, until the liquid is reduced.
- Serve hot, with white rice and baked plantains (tostones).
This is a long, involved recipe, so I’ve put together the following time table so all of your food is ready at the same time (or at least, darn close to it). The target serving time in this example is 7:00, but you can easily adjust this for whatever works for you.
2:00 – Cook beef on stove
5:00 – Cook beans on stove
5:30 – Check beef; once it is cooled enough, shred
6:30 – Preheat oven to 425 for tostones
Microwave prepared plantain
Sauté sofrito together
6:40 – Slice plantain and place in oven
Start cooking rice
Add salt, sofrito, and cumin to beans
Add beef to sofrito, sauté for 3 minutes
6:45 – Add tomatoes, cilantro, black pepper, soy sauce, and stock to beef
7:00 – Serve Dinner