Bolon de verde: Ecuadorian mashed green plantain dumpling balls with cheese
Bolon de verde – mashed green plantain dumplings or balls stuffed with cheese and/or chicharrones (or chorizo or bacon) and fried until crispy- is another traditional Ecuadorian recipe from the coastal region.
This classic Ecuadorian breakfast dish consists of green plantains which are fried over medium heat until very tender, then mashed into dough, stuffed with cheese or pork, formed into round balls, and then fried again until crispy. Bolon is a slang term that means large ball, so you could translate the name of this dish as green plantain balls, but I think green plantain dumpling is probably a better food translation.
These bolones or stuffed dumplings can be served for breakfast or brunch; they are also a great side dish or good appetizers.If you are serving bolon de verde for breakfast or brunch I suggest that you accompany it with hot coffee, a fried egg, hot sauce, and some tomato or avocado slices.
Bolones are typically stuffed with cheese or with chicharrones, which I have to clarify that unlike in Mexico and Central America where chicharrones are fried pork rinds, what we call chicharrones in Ecuador are actually chunks of deep fried fatty pork meat– yes, not the healthiest, but very tasty.
For this recipe I made some bolones stuffed with cheese and others stuffed with chorizo, instead of chicharrones.In some cases the last step of frying the stuffed dumplings is omitted and instead the bolon de verde is served right after being stuffed, personally I prefer to fry it again because I love the crispy exterior that it gets and it also ensures that the dumplings are nice and warm when you eat them.
I tried to come up with a healthier variation by boiling the green plantains until tender –as opposed to frying them -, but it is much harder to get the right consistency that way, instead I ended up making another dish called majado or molloco de verde – a dish with similar ingredients to bolon de verde but instead of making dumplings you just mash the plantains and mix everything together (similar to a potato hash).
Green plantains can be somewhat difficult to peel, the best way to peel them is to make the lengthwise cut on one of the protruding edges, the cut should be skin deep only without touching the actual flesh of the fruit, next use the knife to raise the skin and then peel off the skin with your hands. The greener they are the harder it is to peel them as the flesh tends to stick to the peel, in that case peel it as best you can and then use a knife to remove the stubborn parts of the skin.I do this under cold running water to keep them from staining everything and from darkening.
For a vegetarian version you can stuff the bolones with cheese, also if you are ever traveling in Ecuador and want to order these as a vegetarian dish –same thing applies for many other dishes – you should know that lard is used more than oil to fry or cook food (even rice), and most people are so used to it that even if you specifically request no meat in your dish they will sometimes still use lard -called manteca – in the preparation of your vegetarian dish,this is not done not out of evil, just out of habit.
4 green plantains peeled and cut in medium sized chunks
4-5 tbs butter or lard
2 tbs oil canola or sunflower
1 tbs hot pepper or chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 cup grated cheese and/or 1 cup cooked chorizo or chicharrones (fried pork belly) or bacon
Salt to taste
Ground peanuts optional – add when mashing the green plantains
Melt the butter or lard over medium heat in large sauté pan
Add the plantain chunks and cook for about 40 minutes or until they are very soft, turn them about every 10 minutes, they should be slightly golden but not too crispy.
Sprinkle the cooked plantains with the chili powder, cumin and salt.
Transfer the plantain pieces to a bowl, do this while they are still hot (but be careful not to burn yourself).
Mash the plantains using a wood masher – or just a regular potato masher – until you obtain chunky dough like consistency.
Form balls slightly smaller than the size of a tennis ball with the dough.
Make a hole in the middle of each ball and fill it with the cheese or chorizo or chicharrones (mixed with ground peanuts), gently press the filling into the hole, cover the filling and reshape it back into a ball shape.
Heat the oil over high heat, add the stuffed plantain dumplings and fry them until they are golden and crispy on each side.
Transfer to plate lined with paper towels to drain the grease and serve immediately.
If you’ve never tried it please make sure to ask for it when you travel to Ecuador
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