Oh hey, March! I can’t believe you’re already here!
Today, we are welcoming the new month with a brand new tiny food recipe, as a start of a very, very special idea I had in mind last year: why don’t I share the typical food we used to eat in Venezuela? Our Zulian cuisine is one of the richest, most famous and the perfect representation of what my country is, gastronomically, we are big on local produce, spices and herbs.
This recipe is one of my mom’s favourite: Bollitos pelones! and honestly, they are the easiest thing, delicious ground beef meatballs covered in arepa dough (formed as little balls), and served with a rich tomato sauce.
Yes, this is real. and it is the yummiest.
You can get creative and fill them with other meats (or even vegetarian) like shredded chicken, pork, veggies, but the original version is this one, ground beef.
Our cuisine has many influences from European immigrants after the war (Italian, Portuguese and Spanish), and my city, Maracaibo, the second-largest in Venezuela, has a blend of amazing things: old architecture from the colonial history, new modern buildings from the petroleum boom, a lake, and ALL the food.
Interesting fact about this recipe? You’ll only find them at traditional homes and rarely on restaurants. They are gluten free, and a perfect balance of carbs and protein.
Shall we start with the bollito making, yes?
4 simple steps to make them
Form a ball with the arepa dough and open it, fill it with ground beef, close and cook it with your homemade tomato sauce.
Scroll down to get all the details, ingredients and recipe!
Venezuelan Bollitos Pelones
For the Arepa dough
- 2 cups pre-cooked cornmeal (Harina Pan)
- 2 cups water
For the filling
- 1 Kilogram Lean ground beef
- ¼ tbsp Adobo
- 3 cloves Fresh garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup Spanish onion
- 1/4 cup Green onions
- 1/4 cup leeks, chopped
- Olive oil
For the tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup Spanish onion
- 1 can Can of tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Tomato sauce
- 2 cloves Garlic, crush
- Heat Olive oil in a pan, cook the crushed garlic, paprika, onion, green onions, leeks until the onions are crystalized. Add ground beef, and season with adobo, salt and pepper. Once the meat is cooked, cover and let the beef dry.
- To prepare the arepa dough, in a medium bowl with salt, slowly mix in flour with water. Mix until you have a thick, consistent texture (like a cookie dough). Let stand for about 3 minutes.
- Blend in a pan the garlic, onions and righ after a few minutes the canned tomatoes. Place in a sauce pan over medium heat and add tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cook for at least 10 minutes.
- Make a ball of dough (you can decide the size you want, it's usually slightly bigger than a tennis ball). Open a hole in the center and stretch as much as you can to get room for the beef. Fill it with the ground beef, close it with more dough, making sure it maintains round shape, like a big meatball.
- Bring water to a boil in a deep pot, add the bollitos very carefully, let them cook until they float, which means they are ready. Remove them from water, drain and let them rest.
- Place all meat balls in a pot with your tomato sauce and pour over over them.