This family-style dish from Venezuela is comprised of meatballs wrapped in arepa dough, combining amazing flavors for a superb comfort meal to remember.
Bollos pelones are delicious meatballs of ground beef covered in arepa dough, covered in a savory tomato sauce. You can actually fill them with other types of meat: pork, shredded chicken, but the classic version that I grew up with is filled with ground beef.
This is an extremely traditional Venezuelan dish, that to my knowledge, is only found in home kitchens. I have yet to see this dish served in a restaurant.
I recommend preparing the ground beef a day before so that you speed up prep time.
They’re delightful and so much fun to make!
- 2 cups pre-cooked white cornmeal (available in Latin grocery storesask for the dough to make arepas)
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Ground beef filling
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1/4 cup red paprika
- 1/2 white onion
- 3 strips bacon finely chopped
- Adobo to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 14-ounce can tomatoes, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped green olives
- 2 Tablespoons capers
- 1/2 cup red cooking wine optional
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 14-ounce can tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- salt to taste
- Heat vegetable oil in a pan, cook crushed garlic, paprika, bacon and onion for one minute.
- Add ground beef, followed by adobo.
- Once the meat is cooked, add tomatoes, olives, capers, red wine and tomato paste, lower the temperature, cover and let the sauce thicken.
- To prepare the dough, the chicken broth should be warm.
- Place the broth in a medium bowl and slowly mix in flour.
- Mix with a wooden spoon and once the dough has a similar texture to cookie dough, add one tablespoon of oil and knead with your hands for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Let stand for about 5 minutes.
- Blend canned tomatoes, paprika and onion.
- Place in a sauce pan over medium heat and add tomato paste, salt and garlic.
- Cook until thickened.
Assemble the bollos
- Make a ball of dough (slightly bigger than a golf ball) and open a hole in the center, fill it with the ground beef, close it with more dough, making sure it maintains a round shape. Eliminate excess dough and use a little water to smooth over.
- Repeat with all of the meat and dough until you have used up all your ground beef, setting them aside until you are ready to cook.
- Bring water to a boil in a deep pot, add meat balls carefully to prevent breakage.
- Let them cook for about 12 minutes, or until they float, which means they are ready. Remove them carefully, drain and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Place all meat balls in a serving platter and serve with sauce over them. Enjoy with white rice or just by themselves.