Sweet Plantain Casserole, Piñon

These maduros were delicious but, actually, could have been more ripe. The ripeness of the plantains is determined by amount of black on the skin. Black = sweetness.

A country-style layered dish, Piñon, is a hearty dish made with well-seasoned ground beef, a little cheese and a whole bunch of sweet and soft, deep yellow plantains.  Yellow, highly ripened plantains are known in Puerto Rico as “maduros”, pronounced mah-DOO-ros.  In Hispanic restaurants, you’ll often find maduros baked or fried in butter, all sweet and salty, in their melting, soft glory, gracing the side of your plate, in between the rice and beans and palomillo or carne frita.  Green or yellow, the plantain is something to be admired.  It takes all forms and performs well.  Sautéed, roasted, grilled, fried or mashed, the fruit is low in sodium, high in potassium and vitamin A and a terrific source of fiber.

In Puerto Rico plantains and rice and beans are a staple at the table.  The cooking bananas can be prepared as low-fat or as high-fat as you prefer. For a satisfying low-fat result start with plantains which are well-ripened.  Pre-heat your oven to 450° and spray your baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.   Cut both ends of the plantains, peel them then slice lengthwise, in rounds or diagonally 1/4-inch thick and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tender and golden brown.  Midway through baking turn the plantains over and continue baking.  For this recipe and in keeping with the low-fat plan, replace the ground beef with ground turkey.  Reduced-fat slices of provolone cheese are also the way to go.  I often use egg whites in place of whole eggs.  I find serving this Caribbean dish atop a bed of baby arugula or mixed greens is the ideal accompaniment cutting through the richness beautifully.  Piñon is always, always served warm in the islands but I love it cold the following day.  Buen Provecho!

Love, love, love it cold!

Sweet Plantain Casserole, Piñon

  • Servings: 8-12 depending on serving size
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 5 large ripe plantains, cut 1/4-inch thick, lengthwise, diagonally or in rounds
  • vegetable oil to fry plantains. For a low-fat version, bake in oven as per above instructions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup sofrito, can be found in the Hispanic/international aisle of your grocery store
  • 1/3 cup sliced green olives, with pimentos is fine
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 envelope sazón, also in the Hispanic/international aisle of your grocery store
  • 3 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 6 ounces (10 thin slices) provolone cheese, not smoked
  • 3 large eggs beaten or equal amount of egg whites
  1. Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil and fry plantain slices over medium high heat for several minutes on each side.  They are done when fork tender and have spots of golden brown.  Alternatively, they may be baked for 10-15 minutes in a pre-heated 450° oven on a baking sheet which has been lightly covered with non-stick cooking spray.  Set plantain slices aside when finished.
  2. Wipe the frying pan clean, add the olive oil and cook the sofrito over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the olives and capers and stir while cooking for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes and sazón, stir well and add the ground beef or ground turkey, breaking up the meat with a spoon while it cooks.
  5. Add the vinegar and continue continue stirring for 5-6 minutes or until meat is completely cooked.
  6. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning accordingly.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Cover a 9X13-inch dish lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  8. Divide cooked plantains into 3 equal portions.  Evenly cover the bottom of baking dish with 1 portion of plantains.
  9. Lay half the cheese slices over the plantains.  Cut or tear any overlapping pieces and cover any gaps.
  10. Spoon half the meat mixture into a strainer and, with the back of a spoon, drain and press out any excess sauce and spread it evenly over the cheese making certain to get into the corners.
  11. Place another layer of plantain slices evenly over the meat with the second portion of bananas.  Press down on the plantains, (I use my hands), to help the casserole set tightly.
  12. Lay remaining cheese over the plantains, covering any gaps or holes.
  13. Strain sauce out of second half of meat and, again, spread it evenly over the cheese.
  14. Finish layering with the last of the plantains, evenly covering the top of the casserole, and press them down with the back of a large spoon or with your hands.
  15. Pour eggs over the top making certain the top is completely covered and the eggs have run into all sides and corners of the baking dish.
  16. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  17. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
  18. The first slice or wedge often comes apart but the rest should come out pretty.
  19. Cover and store completely cooled leftovers in the refrigerator.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.