Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Aunt Clara's Pastelón de Papas

Ah, the lovely concept of pastelones. I love pastelones maybe more than any other food in this country. You might hear me say that more than once on La Buena Fe, and it's always going to be true.  Why do you think I want to master Dominican cooking? I can tell you that it isn't because I hate the cuisine.

There are so many forms of pastelones - made with mashed yuca, mashed sweet plantains, mashed potatoes, eggplant, cornmeal, spaghettis, or rice.  They can be made for meat eaters or vegetarians, and they are frequently smothered with cheese. In short, they are basically casseroles, but that boring English word says nothing of the joy they can bring. The Pastelón de Papas that you see in the picture was created with mashed potatoes and ground beef with vegetables, and it was made directly from the fat kid that lives inside of us all - with too much butter, evaporated milk, and cheese, cheese, cheese! If you are watching your diet, forget about it, because you won't be able to resist this dish for long. 

Trust me, I tried...and failed.

I failed so hard that I ate one piece, which started small and then grew little by little to an enormous square of love, and then I gave the rest of the pan to my fiance. "PLEASE," I said, sweating with self control, trying to stop myself from devouring the entire pan, "do something with this. I can't have it in the refrigerator." Luckily, it turns out that he stayed home from work the next day, with a few other people, because he was working on some of his artwork.  

He's a painter, and he's a part of the skateboarding community here in Santo Domingo - so naturally the recycled materials he uses are recycled skateboards and surfboards:

 ...See that Lizzy in the corner? Muahah! This one is mine.

A few friends came over to help out with a current project, and this is how they left their plates, and my pan: 



Pastelón de Papas

6 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes 
1/2 cup butter
1 cup light evaporated milk
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced and mashed
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon (or more) oregano
1/4 cup water
salt to taste
6 slices mozzarella cheese 

First, put the peeled and cubed potatoes to boil.  While they are boiling, season the ground beef by mixing the raw ground beef, onion, green pepper, oregano and pepper together with your hands.  Heat the oil and then add the ground beef mixture.  Cook the meat, and add water and tomato paste after it begins to brown. Stir frequently until the tomato paste has melted. Add more water if it is necessary to finish cooking the meat, and then continue cooking until all the liquid evaporates. Turn off the heat and set it aside.

After the potatoes are tender, drain the excess water and mash the potatoes. With the potatoes, mix the milk, butter, parsley, eggs, garlic, and salt to taste.  Pour half of this mashed potato mixture into a greased baking dish. Then, add all of the ground beef mixture evenly. Top it with a final layer of the mashed potatoes.  Place in the oven on 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the top of the pastelón is golden.  Remove from the oven and add the cheese slices.  Return the pastelón to the oven until the cheese melts. Serves 6+.

a buen tiempo!

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