Pastelón Domincano: Sweet Plantain and Ground Meat Dominican Casserole
Dominican cuisine is characterized by a combination of Spanish, indigenous and African traits. Many starchy vegetables such as yuca, batata, plátanos as well as rice and other grains are widely used. Beans and other legumes are also very common in this tiny island’s cuisine. You can typically find savory and sweet ingredients combinations that result in delicious dishes that are hearty and satisfying. Frying, boiling, roasting and stewing are the main cooking methods used in almost all Dominican dishes. Dominican cuisine shares a lot in common to that of neighboring countries including Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Plantains are one of those foods widely used in Dominican Republic. You can find them as Mangú (mashed green plantains), Mofongo (fried then mashed plantains usually combined with meats, seafood and/or cheese), empanadas and in the very popular lasagna-like dish known as Pastelón.
If you happen to have some ripe plantains known as Maduros, and some ground beef, you just need to add some extra ingredients and make Pastelón. Serve it with a green salad and voilà; Dominican dinner is on the table!
Ingredients & Method (Yields: 5-6 servings)
- 5 – 6 very ripe plantains
- 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 pound 95% lean ground beef
- 1 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1green pepper, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven at 375F. Season meat with salt and pepper.
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and soften onions until translucent. Add garlic and ground meat, stir until completely brown and evenly cooked. Add two tablespoons of water and the tomato paste. Simmer at medium heat. Adjust water and seasonings accordingly, remove from heat and reserve.
Peel the plantains and boil in slightly salted water. When the plantains are tender, drain and mash them with a fork. Add butter and keep mashing until it is very smooth
Slightly grease a baking sheet. Layer half of the plantain mixture, press evenly using a spatula. Cover with about 1/3 of the cheese and add the meat. Layer a second layer of cheese. Cover with the remaining plantain mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese. Put in he oven until the top is bubbly and golden brown.