food

Pastelón

Pastelón, a Puerto Rican casserole made with plantains, can almost be thought of as a spin on Italian lasagna. There are endless variations on this Puerto Rican staple.

food

Pastelón

Pastelón, a Puerto Rican casserole made with plantains, can almost be thought of as a spin on Italian lasagna. There are endless variations on this Puerto Rican staple.

Ingredients

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic
  • 1 small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 bunch cilantro, both leaves and stems roughly chopped (Cilantro could be replaced with culantro, or a mixture of both)
  • Neutral cooking oil, as needed
  • 1⁄4 cup water, as needed
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon achiote seeds
  • 8oz tomato sauce
  • 2 pounds 90/10 ground beef, cooked and drained off
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon MSG
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced olives with pimento
  • 1⁄4 cup capers
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 8-10 ripe plantains, sliced lengthwise into 1⁄4-1⁄2 inch strips 3 1⁄2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 5 large eggs, lightly scrambled and divided

Steps

  1. Note: A dish like Pastelón is made differently in every household. Some use no cheese, some use cheddar cheese, and others use mozzarella as we did in this recipe. Many like to add canned green beans to the meat mixture (although we did not) and similarly the amount and method of the egg usage can differ. My family actually makes three omelets and uses them as the layers, which results in a round version of this dish that is sliced more like a cake.
  2. Add bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, onion, cilantro and 2 tablespoons of oil into a blender. Blend almost to a puree, adding water as needed. The Sofrito should be of similar consistency to apple sauce. Note: Traditionally Sofrito would be made with aji dulce peppers, tiny, habanero looking peppers that are bright green, a little bitter and a little sweet. While these peppers add an amazing aroma and flavor to Puerto Rican dishes, it is very common to substitute with bell peppers, jalapenos or other more accessible peppers.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick or cast iron pan. Add achiote seeds and fry until oil has taken on a bright red/orange color. Remove the seeds and add 1 cup of sofrito and tomato sauce. Fry for 3-5 minutes, until everything is cooked together.
  4. Add cooked ground beef, cumin, coriander, MSG, olives, capers, bouillon, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Heat another large non-stick or cast iron pan over medium high heat and fill with about 3⁄4 to 1 inch of neutral cooking oil. Fry the sliced plantains in batches, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels or a brown paper bag and salt to taste. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  7. Grease a 9x13 baking dish in the bottom of the pan.
  8. To assemble your pastelón, lay down your first layer of maduros (fried sweet plantains) trying not to leave any gaps. Pour 3 beaten eggs evenly over the maduros.
  9. Top with 1⁄2 of the picadillo (ground beef mixture) and spread out evenly. Follow with half of the cheese.
  10. Lay down another layer of maduros and liberally brush with more egg. The egg acts as a glue to hold the pastelón together. Follow with the second half of the meat and the rest of the cheese.
  11. For your final layer, arrange the rest of your maduros nicely on top. Brush with the last egg.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.