Pastelón (Puerto Rican Beef and Plantain Casserole) Recipe

Pastelón (Puerto Rican Beef and Plantain Casserole)

Serves 6 to 8

Pastelón is a traditional Puerto Rican casserole with layers of thinly sliced plantains, seasoned meat, and cheese — similar in structure to a lasagna.


  • 5 ripe plantains (See Cook's Tip)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón (smoked paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan


  1. Cut ends off plantains. Use a knife to make a slit down the back of each one. Use thumbs to peel off skins. Cut each plantain in half lengthwise, and then halve again lengthwise to create 4 long, thin strips. (It's okay if the strips break.)
  2. In a large, heavy skillet, heat an inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. When oil reaches 350°F on a probe thermometer, add 4 - 5 plantain strips and fry 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Fry remaining plantains. Set aside.
  3. In another large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Stir in all the spices. Add ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir, breaking meat into crumbles. When beef is no longer pink, turn off heat. Tilt pan and remove as much fat as possible.
  4. Turn heat back to medium. Add tomato sauce, olives, capers, and cilantro. Bring to simmer and cook 3 to 5 minutes until liquid is evaporated. Adjust seasoning, to taste.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch (2-quart) casserole dish. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  6. Lay one third of the plantain slices along bottom of casserole dish, piecing together any broken strips. Top with half the seasoned beef mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Create a second layer of plantains using half the remaining strips. Top with the rest of the meat and all but 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella.
  7. Pour eggs over casserole, allowing to seep into the layers. Top with remaining plantain slices. Bake uncovered 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and grated parmesan. Return to oven 3 minutes or until center is heated through and cheese is melted.
  8. Cook's Tips:
  9. Look for yellow-black plantains that are soft to the touch. If they are still green, place them in a brown paper bag to expedite ripening. They can take up to 2 weeks to fully ripen.
  10. The seasoned beef prepared in steps 2-4 is called "picadillo." It can be made up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to assemble the pastelón. Increase baking time by about 10 minutes so that it heats through.

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