This dynamic and delicious dish features sweet, caramelized plantains, tender and well-seasoned beef, and intensely flavorful black beans. The 3 primary colors of the dish (black beans, white rice, and brown beef) are to represent the union of the 3 races in Venezuela: Africans, Europeans, and indigenous people. When cooking the plantains, make sure the pan does not get too hot as these will easily burn given their high sugar content. As a shortcut, you can definitely substitute canned black beans—but if you have the time to make these black beans from scratch, they’re so well worth the added effort. Panela or papelon is a brown sugar loaf that can usually be found at Mexican or Latin markets; it offers a more deeply molasses-forward flavor than brown sugar and can be grated on a microplane.
2 cups chopped red bell peppers (about 2 medium bell peppers), divided
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut against the grain into 2-in.-thick strips
7 cups lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces dried black beans (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 tablespoons grated panela (unrefined whole cane sugar) or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons achiote paste, divided
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 ripe large plantains, peeled
Cooked white rice
2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
How to Make It
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until bacon is starting to crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, 1 1/2 cups of the onions, and 1 cup of the bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add steak and 6 cups of the broth, 1 teaspoon each of the salt and cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until steak is tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Using tongs, remove steak from broth. Cool slightly, and shred meat into very thin threads. Add beans and panela to broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until beans are tender, about 2 hours.
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add 3/4 teaspoon each of the salt and achiote paste, and remaining 1 cup onions, 1 cup bell peppers, and 3/4 teaspoon cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in shredded meat; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and meat begins in crisp around edges, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, stir in Worcestershire sauce and remaining 1 cup broth; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut the plantains diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Cook plantains until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Divide meat, plantains, and rice evenly between 4 plates. Using a slotted spoon, place beans on plates, and sprinkle with cheese.
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