Although I wish I could, I can’t take credit for this idea. My co-worker Omar was telling me about how he loves his mom’s Puerto Rican cooking and somehow we got on the subject of plantains. Because when a Cuban and Puerto Rican are talking about food, you somehow always end up on the subject of plantains, you know?
Omar explained how his mom makes a very delicious Plantain PastelÃ³n, or plantain casserole. As soon as I heard those magical words – Plantain Casserole – I knew I had to make it as soon as possible! Ripe plantains are like nothing else. They’re sweet and starchy, like a tropical-flavored sweet potato. They mash up well and I knew they’d make the perfect base for a casserole.
I baked some ripe plantains and topped them with chicken sauteed with onions, peppers and garlic. And because this is a Latin American casserole, I threw in some beans. Finally, a casserole wouldn’t be a casserole without cheese on top. When it came out of the oven, it was gorgeous. Exactly what I was hoping for with it’s browned, crisp edges and melted cheesy crust. So, next time you see that big pile of ugly-looking plantains, grab a few for this casserole. You will thank me!
Cheesy Chicken & Plantain Casserole
4 ripe plantains (They’ll be half yellow, half black when ripe)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 red peppers, thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded
1 tsp. salt
1 8oz. can on tomato sauce (not marinara)
1/2 cup chicken stock (or water)
1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat your oven to 425°. Peel and halve the plantains and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until they are cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove from oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 375°.
While the plantains are baking, saute the onions and peppers in the olive oil over medium-high hear for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Add the chicken, salt and tomato sauce and stir to combine over the heat. If they chicken looks too dry, add a 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock. Saute for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
Grease a small baking dish, then place the plantains at the bottom in one layer. If your baking dish is small, you may have to layer here. Just place enough plantains to cover the bottom in one layer. Place half the chicken on top of the plantains and spread out into an even layer. Do the same with the beans (and any extra plantains you have), then top off with the remaining chicken. Spread the cheese over the top in an even layer.
Bake for 30 minutes at 365°.
Makes 4 – 6 servings.