Piñon (Puerto Rican Lasagna)

photo 2 (3)Hi everyone. I wanted to say that I feel guilty I haven’t cooked or posted much in the last two months. And truthfully, it’s not likely to get better until the end of July. I leave for London (for real this time) in one week. ONE WEEK! I have lots to do to prepare! And then, I’ll be there a week before it’s time for me to leave on vacation to Greece. Tough life, right?

But the other reason I haven’t cooked much is that I love cooking for other people and I haven’t had much opportunity to do that. That is until a few weeks ago when I had a girls night at my apartment. It was one last big blow out with my girls before London. The eight of us (not all pictured below) had a potluck and we ate and we drank and we ate some more. In addition to piñon, we had salad, pizza, cheesecake, chips and dip, and raisin bread. Aren’t pot lucks excellent?! You get to eat all kinds of things!

We also talked and told old stories from college and new recent stories. We laughed and laughed and laughed. And finally we dragged ourselves away from the table, we put on some heels and we went out dancing. At the end of the night we came home, ate more food, had a sleepover, and then the next day I made them watch Orange is the New Black. Best night ever. I felt loved, I danced my heart out, and my feet hurt in the morning. It was an absolute blast. Some photos are below. Some are nice and some are weird… so it goes.

But back to cooking. Having everyone over was also the perfect reason to make something off of my recipe bucket-list. I love sweet plantains and I have been wanting to make this recipe forever, I just needed a captive audience. This is lasagna-like only because meat is layered between things and then baked. Otherwise, the ingredients aren’t that similar.

I was making it as the girls arrived and when I opened the door a few people immediately said, “something smells good!” That is always a good sign. I think sweet plantains and meat may sound like a weird combination, but it totally works.  Everyone said they liked it, and it has an excellent array of flavors. Try it out.

I adapted this recipe from Wilo Benet’s Puerto Rico: True Flavors. I used ground turkey instead of beef to accommodate dietary restrictions. I also cooked the plantains in a skillet instead of in the oven. And finally, I seasoned the meat how I felt like it and didn’t use the cookbook recipe at all. Anyway, have some people over and try it out.

Ingredients: 

4-5 ripe plantains

3 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into small pieces

1 lb ground beef or turkey

olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup sofrito

2 tbsp cilantro

3 eggs

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 300°

2. Peel the plantains and cut lengthwise into about 4 pieces. To peel the plantains, cut off the ends then score lengthwise. Slowly peel the skin from the fruit. Use your knife to scrape what won’t peel off. Plantains don’t peel like bananas.

 

3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the plantain slices. Fry until they brown a little bit,then flip. Place them on a paper towel to drain the oil. You will have to do this step in batches.

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4. Steam the green beans. I did this by putting a little water in a pot, putting a steamer in the pot, adding the green beans, then cooking on high while covered for about 5-7 minutes.

5. In another skillet, heat some oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, saute the onions and garlic until they are soft and browned (5ish minutes)

6. Add the red pepper and sofrito. Cook for about 7 minutes.

7. Add the ground meat. Break it up using your spoon. Cook until entirely cooked through. When it’s done cooking place on paper towels to drain excess grease.

8. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and steamed green beans. Mix!

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9. Oil the bottoms and sides of a 8″x8″ casserole dish.

10. Arrange a layer of plantains on the bottom of the dish.

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11. Top the plantains evenly with the meat. Press down with your hands or with a spoon to make it all fit tightly.

photo 2 (3)

12. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Pour (or spoon/brush) half of the egg over the meat. This egg will help bind your end product.

13. Top the meat with the remaining plantains.

14. Pour the remaining egg over the plantains.

15. Place in the oven and cook for about 35-40 minutes.

16. Slice and serve!

photo 3 (3)

4 spoonMessy level:  This is a four spoon recipe. You need three burners to cook the meat, green beans, and plantains. You also need a dish for the oven. And you have to drain two things to get the grease out. That makes for a lot of dishes!! Also peeling and cutting the plantains is messy work – I had that goop all over the kitchen!

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