Bandeja paisa is a typical meal in Colombia, especially in the Paisa Region and the department of Antioquia, as well as in the coffee growing Caldas, Quidío and Risaralda. You will also find this dish commonly served up in pars of Valle del Cauca.
Bandeja is the Spanish word for platter and paisa refers to an individual from the Paisa Region. The dish is known under several other names as well, including Bandeja antioquia (Antioquian platter), Bandeja de Arriero (Muleteer’s platter) and Bandeja montañera (Mountaineer’s platter).
What’s in it?
Regardless of exact name, the Bandeja paisa is a characterized by generous amounts of filling local food, especially chicharrón, patacones, chorizo, fried egg, red beans cooked with pork, white rice, carne molida, plátano maduro (patacones), morcilla, arepa, a sauce called hogao, avocado and lime.
The food is usually served on a large oval-shaped tray since it is difficult to fit all the food on a standard plate.
In this dish, food traditions and ingredients from several different cultures and regions come together, including Native American traditions and traditions brought in from Europe, Africa and Asia. References to this dish starts showing up in written texts in the 1950s and it is unclear how much older it is. It’s current presentation was probably created by local restaurants who brought together several different peasant dishes from the area and served them all on the same platter.
Some restaurants, especially in Antioquia, offer an extended version of the dish known as “seven meats platter”. This is a bandeja antioquia that contains liver, grilled beef and grilled pork, in addition to all the normal ingredients.
In Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, many restaurants have begun catering to the needs of health-concious urbanites by serving a bandeja paisa where the pork has been replaced with grilled chicken breast and you get a salad instead of the morcilla (blood pudding). Some versions also substitute the chorizo for something lighter and more suitable for sedentary city dwellers.
How to make your own chicharrón for your bandeja paisa
Various versions of chicharrón are eaten in Spain and in most countries that were once colonized by the Spanish, including Colombia. In Colombia, chicharrón is utilized in many different dishes – including bandeja paisa.
- 1 ½ lbs pork belly
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups of water (or as needed)
- Salt to taste
- Cut the pork belly into wide strips, roughly 1 inch wide.
- Rinse the strips and pat dry them.
- Rub the pork (both skin and meat) with baking soda.
- Place the pork in a container and refrigerate for a least one hour.
- Some recipes rinse of the baking soda after the pork has rested, but in this recipe we keep it on because we want really cruchy chicharrón.
- Make “teeth” in the pork by using a sharp knife to make ½ inch incisions. Stop right before you would cut the fat and skin.
- Place the pork in a frying pan with high enough sides. Add enough water to cover the pork. Season with salt.
- Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce to medium low heat and cook until the water has evaporated. This will take around 1.5 hours.
- Increase the heat to medium and cook the pork in its own rendered fat. Move the pork strips around once in a while to ensure that all sides get fried. After 15-20 minutes, the pork should be golden brown on all sides.
Be careful during this stage and cover yourself up with clothes, because the fat will pop a lot and it hurts when it hits unprotected skin.
- Remove the pork from the pan and let it drain on paper towels.
- Taste it, and add more salt if necessary.