Pastelon is a type of casserole that can be made in many different ways. For this dish, some people use mashed plantains or fried plantains, others add raisins and boiled eggs to the ground beef. I prefer to omit the raisins and boiled eggs and use a combination of mashed and fried. The end result is really tasty and a bit more figure friendly.
You can play around with it and adjust the recipe to your liking, but give this method a try! It’s usually a hit when I serve it in my family and it makes an excellent casserole for a party.
To make this recipe you will need the following ingredients:
8 Ripe Yellow Plantains
3 – 4 lbs Ground Beef
~2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tbsp Ground Oregano
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Cumin
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Small Onion
1 Small Red Bell Pepper
1 Small Green Bell Pepper
2 Aji Gustoso
2 tbsp Spanish olives
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 tbsp Butter (or Margarine)
2 Cups of Cheddar Cheese
1/2 – 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Let’s begin by seasoning the ground beef. Before we start, the meat looks a little dark in some areas and that’s because it was frozen then I let it defrost in the fridge for a couple of days. It’s still good, but I just wanted to point that out first.
Also, when cooking ground beef, it’s better to get the leanest ground beef available because as it cooks less grease will be released in the pan. Although, the leaner the meat the more expensive it is, but if you decide to use meat that is not lean you can always scoop out the excess grease. For this dish I am using 85% lean beef, but sometimes you can find beef that is up to 95% lean.
Add 1 tsp of salt to the meat,
Then add some ground black pepper,
Add the oregano,
Then add the garlic powder,
Then add the coriander,
Add the cumin,
And last, but not least, squeeze the juice of one lime over the meat,
Then mix well (with clean hands for better results, or a fork) and let it hang out for atleast 2 hours (overnight for more flavor) in the fridge before cooking.
To begin making the pastelon, take a medium pot and fill it halfway with fresh water, then put it on the stove on high heat.
Then take 4 plantains and peel them to add to the water. To peel them, cut the ends off,
Then run the tip of the knife and cut a thin line through the skin of the plantain,
Then pull the skin away from the plantains,
It will be firmer than a banana, but the skin peels away very easily,
Take the plantains and cut them in half,
Then take each half and slice it into two slices through the middle,
Then take the cut the plantains and add them into the pot and let them come up to a boil,
While the plantains come up to a boil, let’s cook the ground beef.
Take a large skillet and add 2 tbsp of olive oil put on medium high heat and add the chopped garlic,
While the garlic cooks, finely chop the onion then add it to the skillet along with a pinch of salt and saute,
Then finely chop the bell peppers and the habanero chiles,
Aji gustoso can be hard to find sometimes, so you may omit them.
I love using aji gustoso in many of my dishes because they enhance the flavor. Just make sure to not use the ones that are hot (usually the red ones) because they are very spicy!
So, to continue, take the chiles and finely chop them,
Then add them to the skillet along with the chopped bell peppers and stir,
Then take the Spanish olives and give them a rough chop,
Add them to the skillet and stir. Then take about 2 tbsp of the Spanish olive liquid from the bottle and add to the skillet,
Let the vegetables cook for a couple of minuets, then add the ground beef to the skillet and stir,
At this point, the plantains must be boiling, add some salt about 1 tbsp, then let them boil until they are fork tender.
Back to the ground beef, continue stirring breaking down the ground beef so that it doesn’t cook in big chunks,
As it cooks the meat will release some liquid,
Let it cook for about 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste and stir well to dissolve it,
I usually add about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of salt at this point and stir,
Let the meat cook until all of the juices have reduced and the meat starts to “fry” in the oil.
At this point, the plantains should be fork tender,
Turn the heat off and set aside.
When the beef’s liquid has reduced and it’s getting darker in color as it cooks in the oil, it’s ready so turn the heat off.
I like to scoop the excess grease from the meat so that the pastelon is not drenched in it as it bakes. One method I like to use is to pile the beef on one side of the skillet, then take a small kitchen towel and fold it and put it on an a cool area like a heat safe counter top or unheated stove top.
Then take the skillet and put it on the folded towel so that it’s at an angle and the grease accumulates on the bottom end of the skillet,
Even at 85% lean, see how much grease the meat releases? All of that grease accumulates at the bottom of the pastelon and makes the bottom layer of the plantains very oily. Let the skillet hang out at this angle for a few minutes and then scoop the grease out. Set the meat aside for later use.
Before assembling the pastelon, we have to cook the remaining plantains. take a medium pan and add the vegetable oil, enough to coat it by about 1/8 of an inch. Put the heat on medium high.
While the oil is heating up, take the remaining 4 plantains, peel them then cut each one in half,
Then take each half and cut it into slices (about 3 – 4 slices each),
When all of the plantains are peeled and sliced, the oil should be ready. Add enough slices so that they cook lightly (do not over crowd the pan),
Let them cook for about 3 – 4 minutes then flip them over, the cooked side should be golden brown,
Let them cook for a few minutes until the other side is golden brown. Then transfer to a cookie sheet that is lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Cook the remaining plantain slices.
When they are all cooked sprinkle a pinch of salt on them.
Set aside the fried plantains for later use.
Take the boiled plantains and drain them, then add about 1/4 tsp of salt,
Then add the butter (or margarine),
Then mash and incorporate all of the ingredients well,
Add a splash of water (about 1/4 cup) to make the plantains a little creamier,
Mash until the plantains are smooth and creamy,
Now comes the fun part, assembling the pastelon! First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take a medium sized baking dish, the one I’m using is 13x9x2 (3Q), then pour the mashed plantains into it,
Spread the mashed plantains on the baking dish into an even layer,
Then pour all of the meat to make the second layer of the pastelon,
I love a meaty pastelon so the meat layer is very thick, just pack it in with spoon or spatula,
After layering the meat, take the fried plantains and lay them over the meat,
Usually 4 plantains renders more than enough slices to coat the meat, you might have some slices left over but I find that some just magically disappear (well not magically haha ) during the assembly stage….
Now we have to separate the egg whites from the yolk. Give each egg a tap, then gently open the egg to release the egg white into a bowl,
Pour the egg on your partially opened fingers and let the remaining egg whites go into the bowl while the yolk stays on your hand,
Put the yolks in a separate bowl,
Beat the egg whites with a whisk or a fork for a couple of minutes until they start to get fluffy,
Then beat the egg yolks into the egg whites one by one,
When all the eggs have been beaten, pour over the pastelon coating all of the plantain and meat,
Then add a layer of cheese over the top of the pastelon. I usually buy the cheese already shredded that comes with white and yellow cheddar. You may use a different type of cheese, I have tried mozzarella as well but I find that cheddar works best for this dish.
Once the pastelon is thoroughly covered in cheese transfer to the preheated oven (350 degrees),
Let it bake for about 45 minutes until the cheese has melted and formed a nice crust on the top.
Let it cool for about 20 – 30 minutes before cutting. Pastelon is like a lasagna, you need to let it rest because if you cut it when it’s piping hot, it will become a runny mess.
I recommend you serve it with a nice side salad, yum!