Shredded Beef, Ripe Plantains, “Beans” and “Rice”

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Latin American Paleo Cooking Over 80 Traditional Recipes Made Grain and Gluten FreePabellón criollo is considered to be the national dish of Venezuela and consists of four parts: tender shredded meat (called carne mechada), fried sweet plantains (called plátanos maduros), black beans (called caraotas negras) and white rice. To create a strictly Paleo version, I have devised not one but two options to replace both the white rice and the black beans. This dish is served as a hearty meal, but you can also take a small portion of each of the four components and stuff them inside an arepa or even inside an empanada.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings


For the carne mechada
  • 2 lb (905 g) flank steak
  • 2 onions (1 quartered, 1 diced), divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh mint leaf, or ½ tsp dried
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cider vinegar or lime juice
  • 1½ tsp (9 g) fine Himalayan salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp (2 g) chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
How to Make It
  1. To prepare the carne mechada, cut the flank steak crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces and place in a large pot. Add the quartered onion, bay leaf and mint and cover everything with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and lower the heat to a moderate simmer. Cook until the steak is falling-apart tender, 2½ to 3 hours. During the last half hour or so of cooking, you can work on preparing the rice, beanless caraotas and plantains.
  2. When the meat is cooked, remove the steak and shred with 2 forks. Strain the broth and reserve for another use, discarding the cooked onion and leaves.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the diced onion and red pepper and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add all the remaining carne mechada ingredients and mix well, then stir in the shredded beef. Let it all simmer together for about 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  4. When plating the pabellón criollo, you can divide the plate into 4 equal quarters and fill one with carne mechada, one with rice, one with the beanless caraotas and one with fried plantain slices. Alternatively, you can arrange the 4 components in parallel lines across the plate.

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