Piñón (Puerto Rican Lasagna), photo by Norma TorresPhoto by Norma Torres

Piñón (Puerto Rican Lasagna)

Cuisine: Latin
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings
This is a classic dish from Puerto Rico and the best way to describe it is by calling it a lasagna because of its layers.

This Puerto Rican Lasagna uses sweet fried plantains instead of lasagna noodles. The meat is spiced ground beef or as we call it, picadillo. Picadillo came to Puerto Rico via Cuba, and we have adopted it because of its versatility. I usually make a batch and divide it. Part of it goes into my picadillo, and the rest is reserved for our famous empanadas or meat patties. I add a few other ingredients to the meat for those. As time goes by I will show you the wonders of picadillo.

This is not your mom's lasagna! (Unless your mom was Puerto Rican, of course.) This dish has an amazing flavor profile, combining the sweet plantain with the savory beef and the tomato-infused sofrito. It might soon become your favorite way to enjoy lasagna!

Ingredients

  • For the Lasagna
  • 4 cups picadillo
  • 6 ripe plantains peeled and cut (depending on the mold you are using)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 6 eggs beaten and set aside
  • 2 cans string beans French-style
  • For the Picadillo (Adapted from Wilo Benet's recipe)
  • 4 pounds ground sirloin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper seeds and white ribbing removed
  • ½ cup sofrito or more to taste
  • 1 envelope Sazon Goya
  • cups Spanish tomato sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic minced to a paste
  • kosher salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

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Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the onions, cooking them until they are soft and translucent. Add the pepper, garlic and sofrito and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another few minutes. Add the meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Continue cooking until meat is done and liquid has evaporated but not completely dry. You will need a little moisture.
  2. Heat oil, add the sliced plantains and cook until golden. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  3. Pour half of the beaten eggs onto a greased mold. Start to layer the plantains to cover the bottom of the mold. Top with a layer of meat and a layer of string beans. Continue layering and top with a final layer of plantain. Pour the rest of the beaten egg over the plantain layer and prick with a fork to let the egg absorb and not sit on top. You do not want it to look like an omelet… you want the shine of the egg.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350º F. Place the mold in the oven and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the egg has cooked and the meat is heated through. The surface of the piñón should be golden and springy to the touch.
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