Bollos Pelones (Venezuelan Meatballs Wrapped in Arepa Dough), photo by Hispanic Kitchen

Bollos Pelones (Venezuelan Meatballs Wrapped in Arepa Dough)

Cuisine: Venezuelan
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 bolllos
This family-style dish from Venezuela is comprised of meatballs wrapped in arepa dough, combining amazing flavors for a comfort meal to remember.

Bollos pelones are delicious ground beef meatballs covered in arepa dough and served with a savory tomato sauce. You can actually fill them with other types of meat, like pork or shredded chicken, but the classic version that I grew up with is made with ground beef.

This is an extremely traditional Venezuelan dish that, to my knowledge, is only found in home kitchens. Unlike other typical dishes from home, like asado negro, 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!

Ingredients

  • For the Dough
  • 2 cups pre-cooked white cornmeal (available in Latin grocery stores; ask for the dough to make arepas)
  • cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • For the Ground Beef Filling
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • ½ white onion
  • 3 strips bacon finely chopped
  • adobo to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 14-oz can tomatoes cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup green olives chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ cup red cooking wine optional
  • For the Sauce
  • ½ medium onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ can tomatoes 14 oz
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • salt to taste

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Directions

Filling
  1. 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.
Dough
  1. 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.
  2. Tomato sauce: 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Place all meat balls in a serving platter and serve with sauce over them. Enjoy with white rice or just by themselves.
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