The “Pabellón Criollo”, it the most traditional Venezuelan dish after the Arepas. Pabellón is a word for “pavilion”, but it can also mean the national flag, an ensign, or even a tent. The Pabellón Criollo, the traditional Venezuelan dish is made up of shredded (or pulled) beef, black beans, rice and fried plantains, as the most basic version of it. Some people, depending on the part of the country, also add a plain arepa on the side, some avocadoes, some delicious grated white cheese and even a fried egg. When fried plantains are added, it is known as the “Pabellón con Baranda”.
This dish is our national dish, but it originated in Caracas, the capital city. People believe this dish is closely related to Venezuelan history and our miscegenation. This is reflected on the colors of each main component in the dish, black beans, white rice and brown beef. These three colors symbolize the union of the three races: African, European and indigenous.
We can find Pabellón Criollo in any part of the country, and we even use it to fill our empanadas and arepas. But we only use the black beans, beef, and plantains to fill those.
Recipes for main components:
1. Make sure you soak the black beans overnight!
2. Prepare the shredded/pulled beef first, as this will take the longest to cook (4 hours).
3. When the beef has been cooking for about 1½ to 2 hours already, begin to cook the black beans (this will take 2 hours).
4. Proceed to remove the beef from the boiling water. Shred/pull the beef and continue cooking as directed on the recipe (adding the sofrito and stir frying it).
5. Proceed to finish the black beans recipe as well.
6. Set the beef and beans aside, and begin cooking the rice.
7. Make the plantains while the rice is cooking.
8. Finish the rice and the plantains.
9. Serve all together.
– For a fancier presentation of this delicious dish, you can create a Pabellón Criollo tower:
1. Place an oiled pastry ring in the middle of the plate.
2. Add a layer of rice, a layer of black beans, and a layer of beef in equal parts (about one third of the rings height).
3. Top with plantain circles, alternated with cheese or avocado.
4. Decorate with herbs.