Pastelon (Plantain and Picadillo Casserole)

Recipe courtesy of Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night by Daisy Martinez, published by Atria Books

Pastelon (Plantain and Picadillo Casserole)

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    9 fully ripe plantains 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    Vegetable oil cooking spray 1 pinch ground clove (if using beef or pork)
    1 1/2 pounds ground beef, pork or turkey 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
    1 cup Sofrito 1 tablespoon butter, softened
    1/4 cup alcaparrado or coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    2 tablespoons tomato paste 12 extra-large eggs


    Prep: 2 hours (120 mins) Total:
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    • 1

      Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.

    • 2

      Peel the plantains and cut them on a sharp diagonal into ½ inch slices. The slices should be about 3 inches long (shorter near the ends). Line the plantain slices up side by side and spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake until well browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Pile the plantain slices up on a plate to cool. Repeat as necessary with the remaining plantains.

    • 3

      While the plantains are baking, make the picadillo: Spray a large deep skillet with vegetable cooking spray. Set over high heat and crumble the ground beef into it. Cook, stirring, until all traces of pink are gone, about 4 minutes. Add the sofrito and cook, stirring, until the liquid from the beef and sofrito is evaporated and the mixture is sizzling, about 6 minutes. Add the alcaparrado, tomato paste, cumin, clove and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat (so the tomato paste doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn) and cook until the tomato paste changes color, a minute or two.

    • 4

      If necessary, spoon off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Add the flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add ¼ cup water, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Stir in the raisings and check the seasonings and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Remember, you want a well seasoned picadillo to balance the sweetness of the plantains. Cool the picadillo while baking the rest of the plantains.

    • 5

      Assemble the pastelon: Grease the bottom and sides of a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet with the butter, then pour the oil over the butter. Cover the bottom of the pan by making concentric circles of overlapping cooked plantain slices (see photos on page 000). Spoon the picadillo over the plantains and smooth into an even layer. Cover the picadillo (as you covered the bottom of the pan) with concentric circles of overlapping plantain slices. The pastelon can be assembled to this point up to an hour in advance and kept at room temperature covered with a damp kitchen towel or several thicknesses of damp paper towels.

    • 6

      Heat the skillet over medium-low heat just until you can hear sizzling. Reduce the heat to low and very slowly pour the beaten eggs around the edges of the pan and over the top of the pastelon. Pour in as much of the egg as you can without overfilling the pan. Run a heat-resistant spatula around the edges of the pan, separating the plantains and picadillo from the side of the pan and letting the egg from the top seep around the sides of the pan, making room for more egg. When all the liquid egg has set up, add the remaining egg and continue running the spatula around the edge of the pan until that batch of egg is set and the pastelon “drinks” up the rest of the egg. Set the skillet in the oven and bake until bubbling around the edges and the center is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before serving. The pastelon will stay warm enough to serve (if left in the pan) for to an hour. Unmold it (see below) just before serving.

    • 7

      Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to make sure the pastelon won’t stick to the pan. The pastelon can be served directly from the pan, which is easiest to do with an offset spatula. Or for a more dramatic presentation, invert the pastelon onto a serving platter: Choose a large round serving platter—if it has a rim, the “well” of the plate should be at least an inch or two wider than the pan. Put the platter upside down over the pastelon. With a pot holder or oven mitt, grasp the pan handle with one hand and use the other hand to clamp the platter in place over the pastelon. Invert the pan and the platter. Be brave and use one quick motion. Leave the pan in place for a few minutes, then gently lift it. If any of the plantains stick to the pan, simply scrape them off and re-place them on top of the pastelon. Cut into wedges using a very sharp knife and a gentle sawing motion.

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