DOMINICAN RECIPE: PASTELÓN, ALSO KNOWN AS THE BANANA LASAGNA
Sundays are for Dominican cooking in Punta Cana. Well, that is what we at BOP do. Sometimes we gather our friends and family to have brunch or dinner, where everyone brings his own dish. One of the things that usually appears on the table is pastelón. Something you must try when you are in Punta Cana. In this edition of BOP goes local we will share our favorite recipe of this yummy casserole with you.
The battle of the pastelóns
Who does it better? The Dominicans or the Puerto Ricans? Puerto Ricans have their pastelón (meaning pie) and the Dominicans have their own. They almost have the same ingredients, but the sweet ripe plantain in the dish is prepared differently. There are numerous versions of the origin of this banana lasagna. Some say it started in Puerto Rico, others say it came from the Dominican Republic, and another version claims it originated in New York. Totally biased, we choose for the Dominican version of the story where it was created here. But in the end, it is still a mystery.
One of the recipes we like is the one from Aunt Clara. Dominican Clara Gonzalez posts dishes from the Dominican Republic and makes them in a simple way. ´Simple by Clara.’
Prep Time: 15 mins, Cook Time: 45 mins, Servings: 6
Ingredients for the filling:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion [65g] minced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
1 lb [454g] minced beef
1 cup tomato sauce [115g]
1 seeded and minced bell pepper 76g] minced
1 1/2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper (or more, to taste)
1 tsp chopped cilantro (or parsley)
Ingredients for the upper and lower layer:
6 plantains (very ripe)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (soy, peanut or corn)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Butter a 1-inch tall baking pan.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 °F.
For the filling:
Heat oil over medium-low heat. Stir in onion and cook and stir until it turns translucent. Add garlic and cook stirring for a minute.
Add minced meat and cook and stir, breaking into small clumps until it browns.
Pour in tomato sauce, add bell pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir and cover. Simmer for 3 minutes.
Uncover and mix in the optional ingredient of your choice, or none at all if you so prefer. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste if needed. Remove from the heat.
Peel the plantains and boil adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. Once the plantains are very tender, remove them from the heat.
Take the plantains out of the water and mash them with a fork. Add the butter and keep mashing until it is very smooth. Put half of the plantains mixture in the baking pan. Cover with half of the cheese. Cover the cheese with the meat. Cover with the remaining plantain mixture. Cover with the rest of the cheese.
Bake until the top is golden brown.
It will be easier to serve if you wait five minutes after removing from the oven.
If you don´t like cheddar cheese, you can opt for a different kind of cheese. Mozzarella, Parmesan or Gouda, you name it.
To add a little bit more tang to the meat, try adding capers and olives.
We are sure this recipe of the Dominican Republic will make this dish become a regular on your Sunday dinners.
If you also want to have tips on what to do after your brunch and before your dinner, check BOP´s weekly with things to do this weekend (16-18 February).