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Pastelón—Puerto Rican Lasagna Made With Plantains

Pastelon Puerto Rico lasagna

Pastelón, a traditional Puerto Rican dish, is fairly easy to make and most Latino homecooks were probably taught by their mothers and grandmothers how to make this plantain and savory ground beef favorite.

What? You say you’ve never tried it? Do you love lasagna? Do you love plantains? Then you love pastelón!

I call it lasagna’s cousin. My Puerto Rican husband calls it a medley of everything he likes layered in between sweet plantains and then served with rice and beans or tostones.

This filling dish gets its flavor from the briny taste of the capers and olives and its savory heartiness from the picadillo cooked with sofrito. Sofrito is the magic starter sauce that makes every Boricua dish taste Puerto Rican. Every family has their own sofrito recipe: try Doña Felipa’s, this classic sofrito recipe from Puerto Rican cookbook reina Carmen Aboy Valldejuli, or my go-to recipe for sofrito. I like to blend up big batches of sofrito on a Saturday, pop it into ice trays, and stock bags full of tiny sofrito cubes in my freezer for future use.

Seriously, what is there not to love about pastelón? The very act of making it is something to celebrate with family and friends. Like lasagna, pastelón is served family style, cut into squares and dished—hot and melty—right out of the pan.

Some even say that pastelón is better the next day—if there’s any left. (Spoiler: There never is. Ever.)

Pastelón—Puerto Rican Lasagna Made With Plantains

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Michelle Ezratty Murphy Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Servings

8 to 10

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp 1 olive oil

  • 2 lb 2 lean ground beef

  • 2 cloves 2 garlic , minced

  • 1 cup 1 sofrito (see: MIchelle’s sofrito recipe)

  • 1 tsp 1 oregano

  • 1/8 tsp 1/8 cayenne pepper

  • 8 to 12 8 to 12 pimento-stuffed olives, whole or chopped

  • 1 Tbsp 1 capers, drained

  • 16 can 16 tomato sauce

  • 1 Tbsp 1 white vinegar

  • 1 envelope 1 sazón with achiote

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 black pepper

  • 8 oz 8 shredded Mexican cheese mix, mild jack and/or cheddar

  • 3 Tbsp 3 canola oil

  • 8 8 plantains, large, very ripe—starting to turn black

  • 2 2 eggs, beaten

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350.°
  • In a large skillet, on medium high heat, add olive oil and ground beef. Break apart and lightly brown until cooked thoroughly.
  • Add garlic, sofrito, oregano, cayenne pepper, olives, capers, tomato sauce, vinegar and sazon. Stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan, and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the sauce reduces about 25% so to look like a meat sauce.
  • While the meat mixture is simmering, peel the plantains and slice length wise into approximately ¼ inch long strips. You should be able to get at least 3 slices per plantain.
  • In a large flat skillet on medium high heat, add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan (about 1/18th of an inch). Carefully place 4 to 5 plantain strips at a time into the oil, and lightly brown them on each side for approximately 2 to 3 minutes.This will slightly caramelize and sweeten the plantain strips. Transfer plantains on to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the plantain strips until they are all fried.
  • Spray the bottom of a 13- x 9-inch lasagna pan with cooking spray. To begin layering the pastelón, lay the plantain strips in any direction to cover the bottom of the pan. Lightly sprinkle cheese over the plantains (about ¼ cup). Pour a layer of the ground-beef mixture. Add another layer of cheese. Begin the process again: plantains, cheese, beef mixture, cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used, making sure that the final layer are rows of plantains. This will be your top layer.
  • When finished layering, slowly pour the beaten eggs over the pastelón, evenly so they soak down into the layers. The eggs work as the binder to hold the dish together. If needed, carefully tip the pan side to side, so that all the egg is incorporated evenly and throughout the dish.
  • Place into a preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • When done, remove from the oven to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Cut your pastelón into square-sized, cheesy, piping-hot servings. Get ready to have this become your family’s favorite new Puerto Rican dish—it’s that delicioso.

Notes

  • When frying the plantains, keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn. Over-frying the plantains will make them too soft and they will fall apart. You want them nice and golden and firm.
Puerto Rican lasagna pastelon
A stack of fried plantains for Puerto Rican lasagna: pastelón. When frying the ripe plantains, watch that they don’t burn. Over-frying your plantains will make them too soft and they’ll fall apart. You want them golden and firm.

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