Latin American


Sometimes I just want to eat something bad for me.  And I mean really, really bad for me.  Something that goes against all current notions of superfoods and gluten-free this and organic that.  Sometimes I just really want good old fashioned fat.  Yup, that’s right, I said fat.

If you ever have any hankerings like mine, this recipe is for you: a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich served on a mallorca pastry.  Think salty-sweet, kind of like a homemade McGriddle but a million times better and oozing with fat.  Mmmmm.

It first became my mission to make this sandwich at home after my boyfriend and I took a Caribbean cruise back in March.  We set sail from Puerto Rico and therefore spent a day before and after the cruise in San Juan.  Hearing tons of good things about La Bombanera, we decided to stop there for breakfast.  We were advised that we absolutely had to try a mallorca: a buttery yet sweet egg bread sprinkled with powdered sugar.  So, we did, and because we never go halfway in food matters, we also got breakfast sandwiches that used mallorcas as the bread.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The bread was so incredibly dense, rich, and sweet yet savory, and the eggs, bacon, and cheese made me feel guilty for enjoying such a rich treat.  We ate there again on the return trip and vowed to try to recreate the bread and sandwich at home. (more…)

There are only three things you need to know about this recipe: 1) flank steak, 2) fried egg on top, 3) plantains on the side.  Drooling yet?

I found this recipe in The Book of Latin American Cooking, and it is the national dish of Venezuela.  It is very colorful with its brown meat, black beans, red tomatoes, and yellow plantains, hence the name ‘pabellón,’ or flag.  The sweet bananas, oddly enough, really complemented the salty meat, and the egg on top added an extra complexity to the flavor.  I have found other recipes for this dish that omit the plantains and/or the egg…how terrible!  I think these additions really make the dish.  Don’t skimp!

Finally, even though spending $13 on a hunk of meat can be off-putting, it’s a lot of meat- at least six servings if not more.  All in all, this is an extremely filling dish with a great balance of sweet and salty flavors.  It is by far the best dish I have made out of any of my ethnic cookbooks in the past few months!

Pabellon Caraqueno

Ingredients Cost
1 1/2 lbs. flank steak or skirt steak $13.00
1 1/2 c. beef stock, about $0.89
1 medium onion, finely chopped $0.30
3 garlic cloves, minced $0.10
2 medium tomatoes, chopped $1.15
salt pantry
2 T. olive oil pantry
6 eggs, fried in olive oil $0.90
1 ripe plantain or 2 underripe bananas, fried in oil $0.20
Rice for accompaniment $0.84
Beans for accompaniment $0.80
Total cost (6-7 servings) $18.18
Cost per serving ~$2.61

Cut the steak into two or three pieces so it can fit into a saucepan, and add stock to cover.  Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, over very low heat until the meat is tender, one and a half to two hours.  allow the meat to cool in the stock, drain, and shred the meat with fingers.  Combine meat with onion, garlic, and tomatoes.  Season to taste with salt.  Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the meat mixture until the onion is coked and the mixture is quite dry.

To serve, put the rice in the center of a plate and top with meat.  Place the fried egg on top of the meat.   Arrange the beans and plantains on the side.