You can tell when someone puts their heart into a recipe and that is exactly what we got from this recipe Ozzie Mendoza put together. Ozzie was our contest winner from 2021 and was finally able to join us for the FFTT event this past May (2022) Not only did he do a great job in every aspect of FFTT but he also brought a recipe from his family heritage of Puerto Rico. It’s called Pastelon (Puerto Rican lasagna using plantains in place of pasta).
We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.
(Serves 4 to 6)
- 3 Ripe Plantains (Yellow with brown spots)
- 1/2 cup of oil (We used canola)
For the Sofrito
- 1/2 yellow onion (rough chop)
- 1/2 green bell pepper (rough chop)
- 1 to 1 1/2 Garlic clove (rough chop)
- Fresh cilantro (to taste roughly chopped)
- Aji Dulce Peppers (sweet peppers)
For the Picadillo
- 2tablespoons canola oil
- 1pound ground wild boar
- 1teaspoons kosher salt
- ½teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup of fresh finely chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup pimento-stuffed manzanilla olives, quartered
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Prepare the plantains: Line a sheet pan with paper towels; set aside. Cut off the ends of each plantain. With the tip of a knife, score plantains lengthwise and peel off the skin. Cut each plantain in half lengthwise, and then halve again lengthwise so you end up with 12 long slices. (If some of the slices break or are unevenly shaped, that’s OK! Carry on.)
In a large cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat 1/2 cup oil over medium-high to between 350 and 375 degrees. Working with 4 to 6 slices at a time, depending on what fits, fry plantains until deep golden brown, turning halfway through, about 6 minutes total. Transfer fried plantains to the prepared sheet pan and cook remaining plantains; set aside. (Let oil cool, then strain and reserve for another use.)
Prepare the sofrito: Put onion, bell pepper, ají dulce chiles (if using), garlic, cilantro , in a food processor; blend until it becomes a rough, wet purée. (You should have about 1 cup sofrito).
Prepare the picadillo: In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoons oil over medium until it shimmers. Add the sofrito and cook, stirring often, until purée thickens and starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is evenly cooked and no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Turn off heat. Push meat mixture to one side, and carefully tilt skillet so that the fat from the meat collects at the bottom of the tilted pan; spoon off and discard as much of this excess fat as you can.
Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the chopped tomatoes, wine and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes fall apart and the liquid starts to reduce, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in olives and raisins, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Picadillo can be made up to 2 days in advance. Rewarm it in a pan on the stove before proceeding with recipe.)
Prepare the pastelón: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a glass baking dish with butter. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt and set aside.
Lay half the fried plantain slices along the bottom of the baking dish crosswise, piecing any broken pieces together to form an even layer. (If there are small gaps in the plantain layer, this is OK.) Top with half the picadillo, smoothing it into an even layer, then sprinkle half the cheese on top in an even layer. Repeat with another layer of plantains then the remaining picadillo. Pour the whisked eggs evenly over the picadillo layer and spread it so it settles down into the pastelón. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Bake the pastelón until the egg is cooked, the cheese is melted and the layers are set, 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot.