Many Latin American and Caribbean countries have a national dish. Most of those dishes include rice, some kind of bean, a meat dish and a vegetable side.
In Venezuela, at any major family gathering or for the Holidays, the traditional dish served –aside from the Arepas of course – is the Pabellón Criollo. The Pabellón Criollo consist of white rice, caraotas (black beans) amarillos also known as maduros (sweet plantains) and the star is the shredded or pulled steak know in Spanish as Carne Mechada.
It is said that the white of the rice, the brown of the beef and the black in the beans, represent the melding of the European, Indigenous and African cultures. Whatever its meaning, this dish is sure good.
- 2 Lbs. of Beef sirloin or flank steak
- ¼ cup of sofrito/sazón
- 1 large Onion, chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 3 -4 cloves of Garlic, minced
- 10 springs of Cilantro
- 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large can or 2-3 cups of crushed Tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
- 8 Oz. of Water or vegetable or beef broth
- Ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste
- Crumbled Queso Fresco for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Sear the meat on both sides to brown well, about 4 or 5 minutes per side.
- Remove from heat and let rest.
- In the same pot add sofrito all the vegetables, salt, and pepper and let sweat for a couple of minutes.
- Add the meat and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 to 2 hours, or until meat is very tender.
- When cool, shred the meat with your fingers or two forks.
- Reheat and let the broth cook down for about 15 to 20 minutes until desired consistency.
- Serve with black beans, white rice a some of maduros.