Craving some comfort food? Bollitos de Maíz (Boiled Cornmeal Dumplings) is a comfort dish can be served as a side dish or in our beloved sancocho.
Why we ❤️ it
Bollitos de Maíz (Boiled Cornmeal Dumplings) is one of our humble, comfort foods, a dish that can easily be forgotten amidst the plethora of other Dominican side dishes.
These dumplings are linked to the history of the Caribbean, and the immigration between the islands.
We have written more extensively about Domplines, the more common type of dumplings in our cuisine. These arrived in our country with the British island immigrants that came here to work in the sugar industry, and that we know as Cocolos.
Bollitos de maíz (boiled cornmeal dumplings).
Bollitos de maíz (by other names) are also popular in the British Caribbean islands, where they're found in a fried version, and a boiled one. Jamaican cornmeal dumplings are a staple of their cuisine. But this dish also exists in nearly identical form in Trinidad, and the Southern US, all places where our African ancestors had an important influence on the local cuisine.
How they're eaten
These cornmeal dumplings are more commonly found as part of the Sancocho stew in many homes. This is how I encountered them the first time, but they are also served as a side dish, usually e some sort of guisado (stewed meat) with abundant sauce, but if you are making them to add to a sancocho, the recipe is just the same.
Bear in mind that these do not have the creamy, more pasta-like texture of domplines, even when well-cooked, these are closer to the consistency of a piece of boiled plantain.
About our recipe
This is not a dish that was part of my family repertoire, in fact, I first encountered it when I moved south to Santo Domingo. Bollitos de maíz --and "domplines" in general-- are more common in the south, as this is where the majority of recent inter-island immigrants settled.
This is a fairly standard recipe, and while there can be some variations between homes, it won't be a major departure from the one I present you. A popular version is bollitos con coco, but it's not the kind that can be added to sancocho, and we'll get to that recipe on another occassion.
One departure from the traditional version is adding flour to the mix, a trick I learned to foolproof this recipe (most of the time people have a problem with this recipe is because they break down in the water. Adding flour does not affect the flavor, but increases the cooking time.
If you have a different way of making and serving Bollitos de Maíz, I'd love to hear it.
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[Recipe + Video] Bollitos de Maíz (Boiled Cornmeal Dumplings)
- Mix dry ingredients: Mix cornmeal, flour, salt, and sugar. Stir to mix well.
- Make the dough: Add the boiling hot water and proceed to mix well right away using a spatula. Add butter to the mix and combine.
- Make the bollitos: Let the dough cool enough that you can handle it. Take two tablespoons of the mix and form into dumplings, about ¾" (2 cm) in diameter, squeezing to compress them well. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should obtain around 16.
- Cook the bollitos: Heat broth over medium heat until it breaks into a gentle boil. Place the dumplings gently into the broth one by one (careful with splatters!). Do not initially stir or disturb them, once they've been boiling for at least 10 minutes you can stir to make sure they cook evenly.Cook for 1 hour, or until cooked-through (you can cut one in half to check for doneness at the 45-minute mark, cook for an extra 15 mins if needed). Add water as needed to maintain the same level. If you are going to use them for sancocho, skip this step and just add them uncooked to the preparation at the point in which the water in the sancocho starts to boil.
Tips and Notes
Vegan cornmeal dumplingsFor a vegan dish use vegetable oil in lieu of butter.
Gluten-free cornmeal dumplingsCornmeal is naturally gluten-free, but make sure that it is labeled as such because cross-contamination is a concern. A reader in the comments suggested that you can replace all-purpose flour with cornstarch (cornstarch), but this is a substitution I have not tested, and please make sure the cornstarch is also labeled-gluten free as it may also be cross-contaminated during production.
Cornmeal and coconut dumplingsSubstitute the ¾ cup of water for coconut milk. This is also a traditional variation of these bollitos, but I would not do this if you'll add it to Sancocho as it will affect the taste of the stew.
What kind of flour do you use in dumplings?Find as fine cornmeal as you can.
Why do dumplings fall apart when cooked?If the water is not sufficiently hot the dumplings may break when added to the water. Make sure the water is boiling, and that you lower the dumplings into the water very gently, or lower them with a slotted spoon.
ColorThese will generally pick some of the color of the broth, so darker for darker broth, lighter for lighter broth.
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutritional information.
Published Jan 22, 2005, revised