Puerto Rican Plantain Casserole
Cuban Or Puerto Rican?
The debate rages on to the origin of this wonderful casserole. It is commonly referred to as the Cuban plantain casserole, but I have heard Cubans say it is not Cuban. I personally find that hard to believe, because the meat stuffing is basically Picadillo! Most Puerto Ricans love this dish and readily claim it as their own! To add to the confusion there is the Dominican version and other South American & Central American versions! Of the latter grouping however, their plantain casseroles generally consist of pulp plantain and not sliced whole plantains. So what makes this casserole worth such passion? If you would taste it, you would know!
The plantain is a very healthy and versatile fruit. Green, it makes wonderful pasteles and tostones. Yellow with black spots, it is sweeter and makes plantain casseroles. Black it is fried up to make the most wonderful sweet deserts. Today our focus is on the yellow plantain, that is ripe to the point of black spots. They can be purchased at many grocery stores and some Wal-marts. Buy a few extra so you do not come up short (they Can be used as deserts if not needed)!
Why This Recipe Beats The Rest? In my humble opinion what makes this recipe better than the rest is I use Banana peppers which have less bitterness than green peppers. I use half a cup of Parmesan plus half a cup of Italian blend cheese, and add a can of French cut green beans,which really ties the fruit & vegetables in this dish together. I substitute White Zinfandel wine for the vinegar, following Justin Wilson's credo ( if you wouldn't drink it why would you cook with it!)
2 Lbs. Beef
1/2 cup chopped banana pepper
1 large onion chopped
1Tbs. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Sazon de Goya con culantro Y achiote flavor pack ( can substiute 1/2 tsp. ground achiote)
20 pimiento stuffed olives thinly sliced
1 16 ounce can of crushed whole tomatoes
1 16 ounce can of French cut green beans
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup White Zindafeld wine
8 ripe plantains ( yellow with black spots)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 large eggs
3 Tbs. water
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup of Italian blend chesse
Make the filling by browning the beef over medium heat, drain off and set aside. In a pan over medium heat add 3 Tbs. olive oil, add banana peppers,onions, and garlic. When onions are transparent, add olives and capers. Next add the salsa, salt, pepper and Sazon Goya flavor pack. Then add the whole crushed tomatoes with juice and add the meat and wine. Turn the heat off and add French green beans(drained), raisins and all cheese.
Peel plantains and slice diagonally (lengthwise) into slices that are about 1/3 inch wide you should be able to get at least 3 per plantain. Sauté over medium heat about a minute and a half per side or until golden brown. When done put in a bowl with papper towels to drain.
In a Pam greased 9x13x2 inch casserole dish, layer 1/3 of the plantains over the bottom. Then scramble the eggs and water and pour half over the plantains, tilting the dish or spreading with a basting brush evenly over entire layer. Next add 1/3 plantains to the sides of the casserole dish. Add the meat mixture level with a spatula and pat it down. With remaining plantain layer on top and add rest of egg mixture same as performed on the bottom layer.
Cover with tin foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
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