Plantain Casserole (Pastelón de Plátano)

This dish is consumed on Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico. It’s a Creolized (Puerto Rican-ized) version of two of the dishes common at American Thanksgiving dinners: lasagna and green bean casserole. The lasagna ‘noodles’ are plantains. I made it for my Caribbean Society & Culture class, and it was very well received by my Caribbean and non-Caribbean peers.

To divide the different foods by a layer of plantains, you need 2 layers of plantain. You may also want an additional layer on the top and on the bottom. If you only want to use one layer, place it on the very top so you you tell when the plantains (which take the longest to cook) are done. The layer that I would most recommend omitting is the bottom one (only if you’re using meat), in case any grease comes out of the meat; though, there won’t be much grease, since the meat will be cooked before it’s placed in the casserole.

Plantain Casserole (Pastelón de Plátano)

Plantains, ripe and peeled (Determine the amount of plantains based on this: for a baking dish that is 9 inches high and 13 inches long, you need 5 plantains for each layer of plantains.)

Asiago, mozzarella, parmigiano (parmesan), pecorino, or provolone cheese (For a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, you want 1 1/2 cups or 12 oz. of cheese for each layer of plantains. Shredded cheese is easier to use than sliced. Traditionally mozzarella or parmigiano are used.)

Spanish sweet onion 1 large, peeled

Garlic 3 cloves, peeled

Green bell pepper 1, washed, stemmed, and seeded

Cilantro 1/2 cup, washed and coarsely chopped

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.)

Green beans 1 cup or 8 oz., washed and tips cut

Corn 1 cup or 8 oz.

Butter or corn oil, for greasing

1. Slice the plantains lengthwise (in half, sideways).

2. Puree onion, garlic, bell pepper, and cilantro.

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

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

5. Layer the plantains, vegetables or meat, corn, and green beans. Pour vegetable puree on top of the green beans. Sprinkle cheese on top of each layer of plantains. If you don’t want to use a lot of cheese, just sprinkle it on the top of the casserole.

6. Bake until the cheese starts to brown and the plantains are soft enough inside to eat (the outside will be harder). In my oven, it took 30 minutes.

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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.