This recipe however great it is in its traditional sense, needed some tweaking to incorporate flavors to meet my standards, and also, the Moroccan or middle eastern flavors that I was going for. In other words, I was going for a cross or meeting of two food worlds and I think that I nailed it with this one. It was better than I thought it would turn out and even exceeded my own expectations. I finished prepping it about 4 days ago, and only last night was I able to finally finish baking it off (re-heat). I’m glad I waited, as the flavors had time to marry and develop. This small portion was gone in a minute, after my guest and I finally had a taste. I’ll need to make another one today and get some pictures of the making of this wonderful dish and of course, pictures of the (layers) innards of the pastelon, for a better understanding of this amazing dish and recipe. And also, because I need to have it again. I will post my recipe later today. Night!
So a bit of history for me at least about this wonderfully sweet and savory dish, that I so love, but rarely growing up did I get the chance to enjoy. Even though I am a proud cook and a fairly accomplished Puerto Rican cook at that, albeit, I now get why I took my time figuring out why I waited this long to make it. Most while delicious, were always lacking some unique flavor component, and were sometimes even too dry and were made with cheap cheeses that lacked any real flavor and did nothing to compliment the recipe. So recently while perusing the produce section of the local market, I noticed that they had sweet plantains on sale and thought, hmm, what can I do with these? They weren’t quite ripe and no length of time on a high warm counter, will ripen them quite as nicely to full flavor maturity as the plantains we get during the warmer months of summer. At any rate, what I did to develop that sweet flavor and coax the sweetness from them, is to macerate them, much like we do fresh berries. I first did allow them sometime to darken a few days and then sliced them length wise, into 3 separate planks or layers, and split each 1/4 inch plank in half, at its mid point. After prepping 5 plantains, I sprinkled each piece with plenty of granulated sugar and some kosher salt. I then allowed the plantains to macerate for at least 20-30 minutes, if possible, before frying. This technique worked for me and produced the necessary sweetness, I needed for this dish.
What I also wanted to do for my recipe or version, was to use restaurant style ring molds, but barring that concept, I had to work with what was readily available to me in my kitchen arsenal. So what I came up with was, a small round plastic bowl that I lined with some aluminum foil. I lined the edges of the sides of the bowl, with the fried plantain pieces and that created the perfected sphere for the look I was going for. I did forgo the beaten egg that gets poured over the plantain lasagna usually before it goes into the oven. The egg acts as a binder and holds the lasagna together. I preferred to skip this part and went with a fresher cleaner version. Of course you can try this recipe with the egg. Okay, time for the recipe.
Will continue post tomorrow.