Fill your kitchen with the South Caribbean flavor of a Pabellón Criollo

Getting to know any country in the world through its food is arguably the best way. Indeed, anyone can identify countries by the food cooked in their regions.

Closer regions have similar ingredients and food preparations, so sometimes, people can locate the food in the right continent but get confused by placing it in a specific country. Cuisine borders are definitely not as precise as geographical ones.

Latitude, cultures, and traditions

In Europe, there are similar food preparations in different countries. They only vary in the native ingredients or taste added. For example, pilaf, paella, and plov are one-pot meals using rice as the main ingredient.

In Asia, similar components are used in all countries; the variations rely on the herbs and spices used. For example, you will find rice, fresh fruits, and vegetables in all their dishes, such as biryani, fried rice, congee, and nasi.

And in the Americas

The same occurs in South America and the Caribbean where they used similar ingredients in different ways or with various combinations, for instance, the famous rice and beans. In Cuba it is called Ropa Vieja; in Puerto Rico Arroz con gandules; in Costa Rica Gallo Pinto, and in Venezuela, the traditional Pabellón Criollo.

Let’s learn more about this popular Venezuelan delicious and nutritious dish.

What is Pabellón Criollo?

It is Venezuela’s national dish, made of white rice, black beans, shredded meat, and fried plantains. Some regions add fried eggs and palmita cheese.

Cooking this dish can take a long time because the different components must be cooked separately using different techniques. However, it is not difficult to prepare, and you will end up with a complete and tasteful meal. At this time, the results are worth the wait.

Of course, there are some shortcuts for the preparation. Some of them include using instant rice or canned beans. But, to really taste the genuine flavor of this dish, start by cooking it the traditional way and then decide which path you can go next.

Either way, you decide to go, try to use high-quality ingredients like, fresh plantains, tender meat, and fresh black beans.

Cooking a tasty Pabellón Criollo

Pabellón Criollo is flavored white rice, shredded meat, seasoned black beans, and sliced fried plantains. Let’s learn to cook each of these elements step by step.

The first ingredient you have to prepare is black beans, then meat, rice, and finally plantains. This is the recipe for 4 servings.

1 – Seasoned black beans


  • 2 cups of black beans.
  • 1 diced onion.
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic.
  • Olive oil.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Rinse black beans; then soak with enough water overnight.
  2. In a pressure cooker, pour olive oil, start to cook, and incorporate onion for 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, bay leaf, and black beans. Combine all very well.
  4. Pour water, and add salt and pepper.
  5. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Release steam from the pressure cooker. Reserve.

2 – Shredded meat


  • 1.1 lb (500 grams) of flank steak.
  • 2 chopped-in-quarters celery stalks.
  • 1 chopped in quarters onion.
  • 1 finely chopped onion.
  • 1 diced red pepper.
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic.
  • Worcestershire sauce to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin.
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce.
  • Olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Water to cover the steak.


  1. In a saucepan, add steak, celery, and quartered onion.
  2. Bring these ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until steak is tender. Let it stand.
  3. When the steak has cooled enough to handle, start to shred into strands. You can use a knife, two forks, or your fingers.
  4. In a skillet, pour olive oil and heat. Add diced onions, garlic, red pepper, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir very well.
  5. Incorporate shredded meat and sauté for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour a bit of water, and tomato sauce. Cook for 15 minutes.

3 – Flavored white rice


  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice.
  • 2 cups of water.
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
  • ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic.
  • ½ onion.


  1. In a large pot, pour vegetable oil, add cloves of garlic, onion, and rice. Combine all ingredients very well until they are fully covered in oil.
  2. Cook over high heat until they get gold-brownish.
  3. Incorporate water, and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. When all water is absorbed, take out the heat and reserve. Before serving, remove the garlic and onion.

4 – Fried plantains


  • Plantains.
  • Vegetable oil.


  • Peel the plantains, and cut them into slices of ½-inch thick.
  • In a frying pan, add vegetable oil and fry plantain slices.

For serving:

Arrange a portion of white rice, one of shredded meat, one of black beans, and 3-4 sliced plantains in each quarter of a large-sized plate.

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