Pastelón with a Southern Twist

March 31, 2018
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 2 to 4 people
Author Notes

Pastelón is a Puerto Rican dish that I did not discover until I visited San Juan in my early 20s. Mind you, I am part Puerto Rican and quickly asked my mom why she never made it for me! Since then, I have tried to make it several times with the traditional ingredients, but find myself always dissecting it a bit. I have finally decided to add a southern twist and replace the standard seasoning with cacoa nibs, ancho chili powder, and bacon (totally optional). I encourage you to play with adding your favorite spices—maybe after you try this version once! —caffeinefueledrobot (Ciara Taylor)

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Pastelón with a Southern Twist
  • 3 ripe plantains (the riper the sweeter the dish will be, so this is a matter of preference)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup grated smoked cheddar
  • 1/2 cup grated mild white cheddar
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cacoa nibs
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  1. Cut the ends off your plantains, then lightly cut an incision down the plantain from one end to another to be able to peel the skin off. After you have peeled the skin, cut the plantains into 3 chunks. Take each chunk and cut into 4 pieces lengthwise.
  2. Once you have your plantains cut, it's time to fry them up. Coat the bottom of a deep pan with vegetable oil. Let the oil heat up on medium heat. Add 4 to 5 plantain pieces at a time to fry, flipping as they begin to yellow. Once they have cooked evenly on both sides, remove them from the oil and put on a plate. Do this until you have fried them all. Set aside so that you can work on the filling.
  3. Cut 4 slices of bacon. Coat a pan with olive oil and cook the bacon until crispy. Then add the ground beef, stirring and cooking until there is no more pink. Add ancho chili powder, pecans, and cacoa nibs. After everything is mixed in, strain the grease from the meat mixture. Put the meat mixture back in the pan and add the tomato sauce letting it cook over low heat.
  4. Now it's time to assemble! Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of an oven-safe dish with two rows of plantain pieces to cover the bottom. Cover the plantain pieces with the meat filling, then a layer of shredded cheese. Do another layer of plantain pieces, meat, and cheese. Then, one more layer of plantains and cheese. I like to have a couple of small pieces of plantains to add to the middle on top of the cheese, sprinkle a little ancho and pecans.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until it's sizzling and all the cheese has melted!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rashda Khan
    Rashda Khan
  • anka
  • creamtea
  • caffeinefueledrobot (Ciara Taylor)
    caffeinefueledrobot (Ciara Taylor)
  • mikedalena

14 Reviews

Susana G. July 27, 2018
Looks delicious. I will definitely try this. I too am always looking to change things up when making pastelon. I love my mother's traditional pastelon but sometimes I like a twist. Thank you for this and congratulations.
I bet your mother’s pastelon is delicious! Enjoy the twist and thanks 😊
Rashda K. May 8, 2018
Congratulations on being a finalist! This recipe sounds yummy and I can't wait to try it!
Thank you! It's fun to finally contribute to the community! Let me know when you try it :)
Claire May 7, 2018
I have never cooked with plantain but this recipe sounds easy, yummy and practical. However I can't eat cheese (auto-immune issues) so seek an alternative. Maybe mashed potato would add that element of comfort food, making a plantain shepherd 's pie? Any suggestions?
mikedalena May 8, 2018
Why not just leave it out of the recipe? It seems like it would be tasty regardless of the presence of cheese!
I haven't played around with cheese vs no cheese or a substitute, but I agree with Mike that you should try it without cheese. It will be just as yummy, but might be a little messier. I think mashed potatoes might alter the flavor too much. I promised a friend, who also cannot eat cheese, that I would make it for him with vegan cheese. I might also experiment with beans as the "glue" vs cheese. I will keep you posted when I do!
Susana G. August 1, 2018
You do not need the cheese. My mother never added cheese and it was always delicious. She did use a lightly whisked egg poured over for the "glue." But now that I think about it you could try nutritional yeast for the cheese flavor. Oh I think I will have to try that myself. Lol.
mikedalena August 1, 2018
This is simply a pile of deliciousness. I think it screams for creative license and it’s so exciting to see a cook encourage others to do the same with their recipe. xoxo
Thanks 💜
anka May 3, 2018
Congratulations !
Thank you! It was fun to challenge myself and a great experience contributing to the Food52 community for the first time :)
creamtea May 2, 2018
Congratulations on being named a finalist! Sounds delicious!
Thank you! I have been a long time follower of the community. I am excited to have submitted my first recipe and join the fun :)