Pabellón – Venezuela’s Regal Dish

By Habeeb Salloum

Venezuela’s claim to fame in its culinary world is pabellón, considered by many to be the country’s national dish.  Venezuelans are so enamoured with this dish that they call it caviar criollo (native caviar). Prepare the arroz blanco first, then the caraotas negras, and finally the meat mixture.

Pabellón

Serves 6

Arroz Blanco

4 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 cup white rice, rinsed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups water

In a frying pan, melt the butter then sauté onion over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add garlic, rice, salt and pepper, then stir-fry for further 2 minutes.  Add water then bring to boil.  Cover, then cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat then allow rice to cook in its own steam for another 20 minutes.  Set aside.  Keep warm.

Caraotas Negras

1 1/2 cups black beans, washed and soaked overnight and drained

5 cups water

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

1 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Place beans and water in a saucepan, then bring to boil.  Cover, then cook over medium heat for 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary.

In the meantime, in a frying pan, heat oil, then sauté onions over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic, coriander leaves and hot pepper, then stir-fry for further 5 minutes.  Add frying pan contents and remaining ingredients to the beans, then cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until beans are well done, stirring occasionally.  Set aside.  Keep warm.

The Pabellón

1 pound beef steak, cut into large pieces

6 tablespoons olive oil

8 eggs

2 large unripe bananas, peeled, then cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a saucepan, place meat, then cover with water and bring to a boil.  Skim froth. Cover, then cook over medium heat for 1 3/4 hours or until the meat is well cooked. In a frying pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low then fry eggs until both white and yolk are done.  Remove eggs and set aside but keep warm.

In same oil, fry the bananas until they begin to brown, turning them over once.  Remove, set aside, and keep warm.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil then sauté onion over medium heat for 10 minutes then set aside.

Remove meat from stock then stir stock into the beans.  Shred meat pieces with a fork, then add to onion.  Stir in remaining ingredients except rice into the meat-onion mixture, then sauté over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring a few times.

Arrange each plate with rice in centre, covered with a portion of the meat mixture and topped by a fried egg.  Ring rice with beans, then top plate with fried bananas and serve immediately.