Pabellon Criollo is a Venezuelan meat dish made with pulled beef, arepas, beans, rice and plantains. I was watching The Food Network one night and I saw a segment on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives about a place that made Venezuelan Pabellon. The woman was show what went into the sauce, and I thought wow, that would be a great dish if it was vegan! So instead of waiting for someone else to recreate this national dish, I figured that I would give it a shot, and it came out great!
This dish takes quite a bit of work. And while the preparation time isn’t that long, there are so many different pots and pans that you have to monitor all at the same time, that it can really tire you out! So be prepared for a messy kitchen, make sure you have lots of counter space, at least 2 pots, 2 pans and a large mixing bowl to work with.
So without further ado…let us begin!
You will need:
- 1 cup black beans (you can use uncooked and cook them yourself, or if you prefer, use 1 can)
- 1 cup white or brown rice
- 2 cups corn meal flour (I use the PAN brand, more on that below)
- 1 to 2 plantains
- 1/2 of a large onion
- 1 pkg mushooms (8 oz)
- 3 tbsp coconut, walnut or avocado oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small can (6 oz) of organic tomato paste
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 stalk of green onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tbsp worscheshire sauce
- 2 tsp oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
If you haven’t cooked your beans or rice yet, this would be the first thing to do. In two medium pots, cook the beans and rice according to the package directions. For rice you typically want to do one part rice to two parts water. For beans, you want to fill the pot with twice the amount of water, and boil. Throw in a couple bay leaves, some salt and pepper for flavor.
You will need to watch the beans and rice carefully on your back burners. You will be busy with the front ones, so don’t forget about them!
Next, you want to start by chopping all your vegetables. Chop the tomatoes and mushrooms, slice the onion and mince the garlic.
In a large frying pan, add in 1 tablespoon of oil and heat on medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and saute until yellow and golden. Remove from the pan and put on a plate.
Add one more tablespoon of oil to your pan, heat, and this time add the mushrooms. Saute for a couple minutes, then add the red peppers to the mix.
Saute together for another couple minutes, but make sure the peppers still have a slight crunch to them.
Add back in the cooked onions and garlic, and saute together, only for about a minute or so.
Next, add in the chopped tomatoes and saute together for another couple minutes. After a couple minutes, lower your heat to medium low, and add in the tomato paste, worcheshire sauce, oregano, salt and pepper.
Mix together thoroughly, then cover the pan to let the mix simmer, about 10 to 15 minutes. This will be our vegan pabellon dish!
While the mix is simmering, you want to prepare the arepas. Arepas are Venezuelan thin sandwich breads, made with cornflour. The brand “Pan” is sold is almost every grocery store in the flour section, so it should be easy to find. I would highly suggest getting this brand, as the instructions to make the arepas are on the package itself!
Cook the arepas according to the package directions. What you do is add 2 cups Pan flour and 1 teaspoon of salt to a bowl, and add 2 1/2 cups water to it. That’s it! Then you mix the flour and water together, until you eventually form a dough
Knead the dough for a bit, then set aside for 5 minutes. Use this time to check on your pabellon (it should be very thick, not a runny sauce), beans (also should be thicker and boiling and rice (which should be pretty much done at this point).
After 5 minutes, take 1 large handful of dough, roll it into a ball and press down to flatten it. The arepas should be about 10 centimeters in diameter, and they also shouldn’t be too thick or else they will not cook full on the inside.
Heat up a grill and use a tiny bit of oil to make sure the arepas don’t stick, and add them to the grill. Cook evenly on with medium heat on both sides, until the arepas are golden brown.
You also want to use this time to cook your plantains (nope, I didn’t forget about them! But this is how much work you have and how busy your stoves will be). By this time, your pabellon should be marinated and simmered enough, so you will have a free burner to work with (if your beans and rice are still cooking). Slice the plantains in half, and then cut lengthwise. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to your skillet, heat up, then add the bananas.
Once the plantains and the arepas are done, put them on a separate dish. You are now ready for plating!
Slice up your 1 stalk of green onions. This will be added to the arepa sandwich and it gives the dish a nice, crisp and fresh flavor!
Add some rice, plantains, pabellon and 2 arepas to the dish. Top the rice with black beans and add some green onions for garnish.
Your meal should look something like this.
To use the arepas as a sandwich, use a knife to slice down the middle and add in some pabellon, beans, rice and green onion. Close the top with the other half, and eat!
This dish also saves great in the fridge. If you do have leftovers, make sure to warm the arepas up by first sprinkling water all over the outside. This will soften the dough a bit and make it great for eating again.
The sandwiches can get a bit messy, so make sure you have lots of napkins on hand!