Boliche??? What is that? Well… The name in Spanish literally means “bowling”. Yeah, bowling, like the game you play. So, what does bowling have to do with this delicious Cuban dish? Well, now that I think about it, nothing! But, that’s alright! It’s still a phenomenal dish.
Boliche is rich in flavor and easy to prepare, like all my recipes. Essentially boliche is a beef roast that has been marinated in citrus juices, a popular practice in Latin American and Cuban cuisine. Marinating the meat breaks down the connective tissue thus naturally tenderizing it. The roast is then stuffed with chorizo and stuffed olives, tied and slow cooked to tender perfection. As far as the chorizo goes, you can use fresh or cured chorizo. My personal preference is the cured chorizo. One less step. The olives (use stuffed olives) add a great salty/tangy taste to the boliche.
The best boliche I have ever had was in a small, and unassuming family restaurant in Melbourne, Florida. It was amazingly tender; the combination of spices was perfect and the traditional accompaniments of rice, black beans, and plantains were also delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Although I am not Cuban, I grew up on this type of food, and absolutely love the flavors and textures if offers. Cuban food is definitely comfort food.
One of the things I love about boliche apart from the scrumptious flavors is the fact that if you are having guests, you can start way ahead of time. It’s a no fuss kind of dish. My husband thought that perhaps boliche could be cooked in the crock pot. Frankly, I don’t see why not. I, however, have always cooked it on the stove; old habits are hard to break.
As far as the origins of boliche go, I am not really sure. If I were to hazard a guess I would say it is a blend of Spanish and African cuisine. Spanish due to the use of chorizo, and African given the slow cooking process. In the plantations African slaves could not afford to purchase good cuts of meat, so they would slow cook a lesser quality meat until it was tender and infused with all kinds of wonderfully rich flavors. You can say that boliche is a close cousin to Ropa Vieja, the only difference being is that boliche is not shredded.
Boliche is definitely not a low-cal dish. It is the perfect choice for a Latin American/Caribbean dinner.
Note: When cooking, if you notice that the liquid is evaporating, add more water. A good rule of thumb is one cup of water per pound of meat.
Cuban boliche is a tender slow cooked beef roast stuffed with chorizo and olives. The citrus marinade brings out some wonderful flavors.
- 4 lbs beef roast top round
- 1/2 lb chorizo
- 8 stuffed olives sliced
- 1 orange fresh squeezed juice
- 1/2 lemon fresh squeezed juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Roma tomatoes diced
- 1 onion medium, diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 8 sprigs cilantro tied
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups water
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- Place meat in a resealable bag and add the orange juice, lemon juice and salt. Marinate 8-12 hours. Discard marinade when done.
- In a small bowl place salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano.
- Insert knife front to back and make an incision across the front.
- Stuff with chorizo and olives.
- Sprinkle with spice mixture.
- Insert skewers (top to bottom) to hold filling in place.
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven and add the meat. Brown on all sides.
- Turn heat to medium and add the tomatoes, onions,garlic, cilantro, bay leaves, water, and tomato paste.
- Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours, turning every 15 minutes or so. Every time you turn the meat pour the juice over it to keep the meat hydrated.
- I like to serve this dish with rice, beans and sweet plantains.