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.