I know it can be scary to make a recipe you have never tasted or seen. BUT TRUST ME, you want these in your life, especially if you're a gluten-free queen.
What are they?
Bollos Pelones are the arepa’s sassy cousins. I’ve seen some websites describe these as “ground meat dumplings” – although I see no similarity in taste with a dumpling, I guess it is the easiest way to think about them.
Bollos pelones are a ball of arepa dough the size of an orange, stuffed with your favorite meat and coated with a sauce, typically, a tomato-based.
They are delicious and although I bet you have never tried something like it, they will still somehow taste familiar.
Their actual origin is uncertain, some are sure that they come from the Yaracuy state, while others say they are from Zulia. The name makes reference to the fact that the preparation requires no wrapping in leaves; bollo means cooked dough and pelones means bald or naked.
It is an elaborate dish that is not typically served in restaurants. Until Venezuelan cuisine follows the footsteps of Peruvian, this will remain solely a home cooked treat.
The goal is a firm but soft dough, not toasted or crunchy. Think polenta, dumplings, etc. Some ask if they could bake these but that would make them dry.
Each region has a slight variation recipe of ground meat and tomato sauce, stuffing them with pork, chicken or even seafood.
You could create your own version of this recipe with a little creativity. Why not a delicious cooked fish or shrimp, and drizzle with calamari ink?
It’s always so much fun to break open a bollo pelon to find out what tastes and surprises it’s hiding in its stuffing.
This recipe takes inspiration from this one in Spanish that I found online a while back.
Prep Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Servings: 10 bollos pelones
- 2 CUPS PRE-COOKED WHITE CORNMEAL AVAILABLE IN LATIN GROCERY STORES ASK FOR THE DOUGH TO MAKE AREPAS
- 2½ CUPS CHICKEN BROTH
- 1 TABLESPOON VEGETABLE OIL
- ½ POUND GROUND BEEF
- 2 CLOVES GARLIC CRUSHED
- ¼ CUP RED PAPRIKA
- ½ WHITE ONION
- 3 STRIPS BACON FINELY CHOPPED
- ADOBO TO TASTE
- 1/2 TEASPOON TOMATO PASTE
- 1 CAN TOMATOES 14 OZ CUT INTO SMALL PIECES
- ¼ CUP CHOPPED GREEN OLIVES
- 2 TABLESPOONS CAPERS
- ½ CUP RED COOKING WINE OPTIONAL
- ½ MEDIUM ONION
- ½ RED PEPPER
- ½ CAN TOMATOES 14 OZ
- 2 TABLESPOONS TOMATO PASTE
- 2 GARLIC CLOVES CRUSHED
- SALT TO TASTE
- Heat vegetable oil in a pan, cook crushed garlic, paprika, bacon andonion 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.
It is recommended that the stuffing is prepared the day before.
The texture of the dough must be the same as used for the arepa. Some recommend that an egg yolk is added to the dough with a dash of butter - I will try that next time and update this recipe if that is more favorable but I have not found it necessary.