Sweet Plaintain Lasagna (Pastelón)
Oh, if only I weren’t such a terrible photographer.
This photo doesn’t capture at all how richly delicious this dish is. Nor does it hint at my immense regret at not trying this easy recipe sooner.
I first had pastelón at Bierkraft, where it appeared on the menu as a weekend Paleo special. Considering my long-standing status as an honorary Puerto Rican, it’s pretty ridiculous that I never encountered this dish until a bunch of white beer geeks in Park freaking Slope served it to me, but I guess that can’t be helped.
The Bierkraft version rocked my world right away.
Months later I found a recipe and bookmarked it. Having finally made it, I’ll say unequivocally that you really, really need to cook this right the hell now.
This dish does have a couple of steps, but it’s quite a bit easier than traditional lasagna. You do have to plan ahead to get really, really ripe plaintains. And before you ask - yes, it contains cheese. The meat mixture might look familiar; it is similar to picadillo (beef plus a traditional sweet/sour combo of green olives and raisins), which to me is a plus.
Also, the oven time is short, so you won’t turn your summertime apartment into a living hell.
Please do acquire two inexpensive seasoning ingredients.
and Sazon Goya. Sazon is basically MSG, but other than that it’s totally Paleo. Heh.
Thanks to Dave Byrd for cooking and enjoying this with me.
Pastelón, adapted from The Noshery
- 1 sleeve Herondale Farm grassfed ground beef (about 1.3 lbs)
- 1 large onion, minced
- 4 gloves garlic, minced
- 1 large green pepper, minced
- 1/2 cup (or more) chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tsp adobo
- 3 tsp dried oregano
- 3 Tbs vinegar (apple cider, white wine, or rice wine)
- 1 envelope sazón
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 green stuffed olives, halved (large green Spanish onions stuffed with red pimento)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 4 or 5 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into strips
- 4 eggs
- 2 Tbs milk
- 2.5 cups white shredded cheese
- olive oil
Equipment: you need a glass lasagna pan, either square or rectangular. If your pan is bigger than 11x7, increase the recipe by at least 50%.
**There are beautiful step-by-step photos at the original link; please click over if you like. Remember: I’ve adapted the recipe below, so the ingredients, etc. will not match exactly.
1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter the baking dish.
2. Combine, beef, onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro, adobo, oregano, vinegar and sazon. Mix well.
3. Heat a large skillet at medium-high heat with 2 Tbs of olive oil; add meat mixture. Cook beef until brown and of the juices bubble up. Add bay leaves, olives, raisins and tomato sauce. Mix and let simmer for 10 minutes; set aside. Do not overcook.
4. Heat a large frying pan with olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom. Fry plantains for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden and slightly crispy. Fry in batches as necessary. Drain on a plate with paper towel; set aside.
5. To assemble pastelon: Take your prepared pan, start with a layer of plantains, then beef, then a fistful of cheese, repeat. You want to finish with cheese and plantains. You’ll probably get two layers, all told. If you are short a few strips, don’t worry.
6. Beat the eggs with 2 Tbs of milk, and pour it over the pastelón. Let it sit for a minute, allowing the egg to soak in. Top off with just a bit more cheese, a few grinds of pepper, and a swish of salt.
7. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. I found it perfectly done in that time - everything in the pan is essentially already cooked.