This simple recipe for bola de carne creates a hearty “meat bread” that feeds a crowd.
A traditional dish from Portuguese cuisine, bola de carne is an easy dinner idea.
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If you aren’t familiar with bola de carne, you’re in for a treat!
A dish hailing from Portuguese origins, it’s a bread, meat, and cheese combination that feeds a crowd with minimal effort, making it perfect for your holiday celebrations.
In researching its history, I’ve seen bola de carne also referred to as “meat bread” or “meat cake.”
How is Bola de Carne Made?
As with many traditional cuisines, it appears there are several versions of bola de carne, many of which have likely been passed down through generations.
In all versions, a bread is filled or stuffed with a meat of some sort.
Some people use sliced charcuterie-type meats as the filling, while others use pulled or shredded meats.
Some recipes incorporate cheese, and some don’t.
I’ve seen versions made with thicker layers of bread, and other versions made with a rolled dough, similar to an Italian stromboli.
And although I have seen recipes that use a dough made with leaveners other than yeast, most of the traditional recipes I’ve found use yeast, so that’s what I’ve used in this recipe. I wanted to stay as close to the authentic mode of preparation as possible.
The result is a soft bread with a crispy outside, filled with shredded pork or beef (this is a fabulous way to use up leftover roast beef or BBQ pork!) and melted cheese.
Since one batch yields quite a few servings, and since it’s so easy to make, bola de carne is a delicious meal to serve around the holidays!
Although my family is not Portuguese, as a homeschooling mom, I love to expose my kids to the wide range of cultures throughout the world, through relationships, art, books, music, and cuisine!
Related: How to Make Arepas Con Queso
How to Make Bola de Carne
It’s really easy to make this simple dish!
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Olive oil
- All-purpose flour
- Shredded beef or pork
How to Make It:
Combine wet ingredients. First, you’ll combine milk, olive oil (yes, it seems like a lot of olive oil, but it’s crucial to giving the bread a flavorful and crispy crust), eggs, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low or medium speed briefly, just to combine.
Add dry ingredients. Next, with the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour and salt. The “dough” will actually be more like the consistency of a cake batter.
Once that’s incorporated, add a cup of the shredded cheese to the batter and stir just to combine.
Layer. Last, you’ll create the layers of bola de carne. Start by pouring half of the batter into a greased pan. Top that with all of the shredded meat, being careful to spread it evenly so each piece will have meat in it.
Then, you’ll top the meat with the rest of the cheese, then pour the remaining bread batter over everything.
You’ll bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45-50 minutes, then let it cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Once it’s had a chance to cool for a little bit, you can slice into the bola de carne.
It’s a pretty filling dish, so you can adjust the slices according to your guests’ appetites.
Notes and Adaptations:
- Feel free to change up the meat and cheese. I used leftover BBQ pork and shredded cheddar, but use what you have! Many people traditionally use a 2-3 cups pe de torresmo, which is marinated shredded pork. You can also incorporate sliced cured meats instead of shredded meats.
- I recommend using a minimum of 2 cups of shredded meat, so you’ll have enough to cover the entire layer of batter. You can definitely increase this to 3-4 cups if you want more meat in your filling.
- If you’re using shredded meat, you can always add sauces or seasonings if desired. The type of shredded pork or beef doesn’t really matter much–just make sure it has been seasoned adequately so your bolas de carne aren’t bland.
- You can also add seasonings to the bread batter if desired, such as garlic powder, onion powder, etc.
- You can freeze pulled pork for later, then thaw it and add to this recipe.
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 5 eggs
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 TBSP yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 cups shredded beef or pork
- Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9x13" baking dish.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine milk, olive oil, eggs, and yeast.
- Mix on low speed until combined.
- With the mixer still on low speed, gradually add the flour and salt, mixing for a couple of minutes to form a smooth batter.
- Add 1 cup of shredded cheese to the batter and mix just until incorporated.
- Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.
- Add shredded meat evenly on top of the batter, being careful to cover as much of the batter as possible with the meat.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese evenly over the meat.
- Pour the remaining batter over the meat and cheese.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden-brown on top and the bread springs back when pressed with a finger.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Instead of shredded meat and cheese, some people make bola de carne with sliced deli meats and cheeses. Feel free to try different filling options!
- This is a great way to use up leftovers! You can also add BBQ sauce or other seasonings of choice to shredded meats if desired.
Amount Per Serving Calories 582Total Fat 40gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 28gCholesterol 123mgSodium 476mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 20g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is not guaranteed for accuracy.