Eating is hands down one of the best ways to get to know a place. Local cuisine blends cultural traditions with what farmers have growing in their fields. In the coffee growing region of Colombia, bandeja paisa tells all.
Local Salento chef Carlos Pardo graciously invited us to his restaurant to learn how to make this classic Colombian dish that’s calorie-dense and full of flavor. It was originally created to refuel donkey drivers after long days working in the countryside, however, the dish now serves to provide sustenance to hikers after strenuous trekking in nearby Los Nevados National Park.
Pardo insists that the ingredients have to be fresh and local. True to his word, Pardo was able to source almost all of the ingredients within a two-minute walk from his restaurant.
Bandeja paisa is a traditional Colombian meal. “Bandeja” is a platter, and “paisa” means the Paisa region of Colombia.
3/4 pound dried large red beans
1/4 pound skinless pork belly
4 pre-cooked chorizo sausages
1 pound beef loin
4 eggs cooked sunny side up
4 plantains thinly sliced and baked
- Rinse the beans before cooking. Dried beans can be cooked on the stove, in a slow cooker, or in a pressure cooker. Cook and spice to taste.
- Prepare pork belly and beef loin. For this dish, pork belly is typically prepared in the style of Chicharrón, while the beef is ground in the style of carne molida. Recipes for both preparations can be found online.
- Arrange all ingredients a skillet with a wall of rice and eggs in middle, beans on one side, meat/arepa on the other.
Fresh. Filling. Delicioso.
Next time you’re traveling, try learning a local dish and chances are you’ll learn more than just the recipe.