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Puerto Rican Pastelón



– About 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil – 3 1/2 pounds ripe plantains (about 6), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices – 1 cup 1/4-inch diced white onion (about 1/2 medium) – 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice – 1 pound lean ground beef – 1 cup canned tomato sauce – 1 teaspoon sazón (see note) – 1/2 teaspoon adobo all-purpose seasoning – 12 pimento-stuffed olives, sliced – 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro – 1 teaspoon capers (drained) – 4 cups shredded Real California Oaxaca cheese (about 1 pound) – 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano – 3 large eggs – 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
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Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: About 2 hours

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish and set aside.

Add enough oil to a large skillet to make oil 1/2 inch deep, then warm to 300°F over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adjusting the heat to maintain about 300°F, cook plantains until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove cooked plantains to a paper towel-lined plate or platter and set aside.

Drain off all but 2 tablespoons oil and return the skillet to medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add beef, tomato sauce, sazón, and adobo seasoning and cook, stirring and breaking up beef, until beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in olives, cilantro, and capers.

Arrange 1/3 of plantain slices in the prepared dish. Top with 1/3 of beef mixture, 1 1/2 cups cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon oregano. Repeat. Finish with remaining plantains and remaining beef mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs and baking soda, whisking until bubbly. Pour mixture over the baking dish and bake 30 minutes.

Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over dish. Turn on the broiler, return pastelón to the middle of the oven, and broil until cheese is browned and bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Sazón is a seasoning blend that typically includes cilantro, achiote, garlic, and salt. Look for it in the ethnic section of your supermarket, at Latin markets, and online.