Yuca Shepherds’ Pie (Pastelón de Yuca)

This dish is consumed on Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico (Dominicans eat it too, but year-round). It’s a Creolized (Puerto Rican-ized) version of shepherds’ pie, which is a common dish at American Thanksgiving dinners. I made it for my Caribbean Society & Culture class, and it was very well received by my peers, both those of Caribbean ancestry and otherwise.

Yuca Shepherds’ Pie (Pastelón de Yuca)

Yuca 2 lbs, peeled, cored, and boiled

Asiago, mozzarella, parmigiano (parmesan), pecorino, or provolone cheese (For a baking dish that is 8 inches high and 8 inches long, you want 1/2 cup or 4 oz. Traditionally mozzarella is used.)

Milk 1/2 cup

Butter 3 tbsp plus more for greasing

Spanish sweet onion 1 large, peeled

Garlic 3 cloves, peeled

Any vegetables that hold up well when baked 1 lb. OR ground meat 1 lb. (Ground beef is most common, but if you’re making this for Thanksgiving, you may want to use ground turkey.)

Corn 1 cup or 8 oz.

1. Puree milk, butter, onion, and garlic in a blender.

2. If using meat, set stove to medium and cook until browned. Season it, if desired. Drain the grease.

3. Grease baking dish and preheat oven to 350°F.

4. With a potato masher, mash the yuca with the milk mix. Yuca is somewhat tough, so it took me longer to mash than potatoes.

5. Place the meat or vegetables in the baking dish. Place the corn on top of that layer. Place the mashed yuca on top of the corn. Sprinkle cheese on top of the yuca.

6. Bake until the cheese starts to brown, about 30 minutes.

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