Honestly, plantains make me happy. Really happy. I had this wonderful meal at a friend’s house last Friday where she made Tostones that reminded me of my trip to Miami. But the star of her dinner was this dish called Pastelón which I had never had before. Upon royally stuffing my face at dinner I found myself picking at this Pastelón all night while we were chatting. Not because I was hungry, but because it was SO GOOD.
4 ripe plantains (brownish, NOT green)
1 cup butter, cubed
1 pound ground beef
1 white onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 poblano chili, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs tomato paste
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
meat seasoning (I use a seasoning powder, which mainly consists of salt, garlic, pepper, and a little spice. Just use your favorite seasoning.)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, for cooking
Think of this like a Cuban lasagna; starch layered with meat. It is pretty easy to prepare too. First things first, preheat your oven to 350.
To start, get a large pot on the stove with boiling water. Chop up your plantains into even inch pieces to help with the cook time.
Add the plantains to the water and cook for NO MORE than 15 minutes. I recommend around 13 and a 1/2. This way the plantains get soft enough to mash, but the water doesn’t pull all the sugar out.
While the plantains are cooking down, add some oil to a large saucepan. Throw the onions, bell pepper, and poblano chili into the pan to start cooking down.
Once the plantains have cooked for the allotted time, drain the water. Add the butter to the pot until it melts.
Once the butter has melted, mash everything together and form sort of a mashed plantain paste. Set aside.
The vegetables should be cooked down at this point. Add the minced garlic and stir. Let cook for about 2 more minutes.
Add the meat and cook all the way through. Add your seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Once the meat is cooked, incorporate the vegetables.
When everything it together, add the tomato paste. Mix thoroughly.
Grab a ramekin or baking dish. Leave it ungreased. Take 1/3 of the plantain mixture and layer it on the bottom of the dish. For my circular ramekin, I did 3 layers of plantains. If you are using a longer baking dish, it is oh k to only have two layers, as long as the meat is encased with plantains on both sides.
Next, layer in half your meat. Add the second layer of plantains. Repeat till all meat and plantains have been used.
The top layer should be the last layer of plantains.
Top with the queso fresco and Parmesan cheese mixture. Bake just until the cheese begins to get bubbly (about 20 minutes).
Remove from the oven. Take a knife and cut into slices. Everything should be eaten together, in a mixture of meat and plantain.