My first apartment in Philly was a 4th floor walkup located in center city. I loved it. I actually mentioned this a while back with my chicken and rice recipe. It was above an awesome Cuban, Latin American and Caribbean restaurant called Mixto, which we of course went to on a weekly basis. One of my favorite things to get there were the stuffed plantains, or Maduro Relleno is what I think they’re listed as on the menu. Since moving out of that neighborhood, we’ve only been back to Mixto maybe a handful of times, and I’ve had no luck getting that dish anywhere else. So, when Ry came home with a massive box of plantains, I knew exactly what I was making.
We love plantains, I typically prefer them soft and sweet, but I’ll eat ‘em however you’re making them. This recipe is right up my alley, it’s a mix of sweet and savory, which I love. There are super briny pimento stuffed olives along with sweet golden raisins in the ground meat filling, and that’s all stuffed into a sweet plantain, then topped with cheese. I must admit that I am no expert on Cuban food here, and I’ve definitely made some adjustments to the recipe. The first being that I’m not frying the plantains, I’m baking them, for a variety of reasons, the main one being I don’t feel like dealing with the cleanup of frying. The other is that I’m topping these with queso fresco rather than dried mozzarella, which I think is more typical. I’m just doing what I want, I suggest you do the same.
So, when Ry came home with a massive box of plantains, I knew exactly what I was making.
This is a nice dish if you’re cooking for a crowd. You can prep everything beforehand, assemble and then bake it up when you want. You can also totally go wild with the fillings here. I’m debating whether I should try a vegetarian version using lentils in place of the beef? Not sure yet.
If you come up with any good stuffing variations let me know about it in the comments below!
And, if you happen to have any suggestions on where to go get some great Cuban food in Philly keep me posted! Always trying to expand my culinary horizons over here.
Sweet plantains stuffed with beef, olives and raisins
- 6 Ripe Plantains
- 1 lb – Ground Beef
- 1/4 C Golden Raisins – Soaked in hot water to rehydrate
- 1/2 Onion – Fine dice, I used a red onion, but use whatever you want
- 1/2 Red Pepper – Fine Dice
- 2 Tbsp cilantro stems – Finely Chopped
- 1/4 C Pimento Stuffed Green Olives – Rough Dice
- 1 Tsp Vinegar (anything but balsamic) or Lime Juice
- 1/4 Tsp Dried Oregano
- 1/4 Tsp Cumin
- 1/8 Tsp Ancho Chilli Powder
- 1/8 Tsp Cinnamon
- Cheese – Queso Fresco, Queso Blanco or Dried Mozzarella would all work here
- Cilantro – as much as you want to top, Rough Chop
Preheat your over to 400°F.
First step. Get the plantains cooking. You can certainly go ahead and fry these up, that would be the more typical route to take here, but since I hate deep frying in the house I’m baking em. The time will depend on the ripeness of your plantains, but get them lightly coated in oil, a bit of salt and then into a 400°F oven. Let them cook for about 15 mins, then turn them over and cook for another 15mins. Check for doneness, you should be able to easily pierce through them with a small pairing knife. If they need it, cook for another 10 minutes or so till they’re done.
Next up, while those plantains are cooking, you can get the filling situated. You want to start by getting your beef browned. Add it into a pan over medium-high heat with a touch of oil and a good bit of salt. Once your meat has some color and is pretty much cooked through you can go ahead and add it to a bowl and set aside while we get the veg going.
Add your onions, peppers and cilantro stems to the same pan with a bit more oil and salt and cook them till they’re nice and soft. You’re not aiming for a ton of color on these, you just want everything to sweat and get soft and the onions to get translucent. Once that’s happened you’re in a good place to add that ground beef back in the pan, along with any juices it may have left behind, and toss in the spices. Add your cumin, oregano, ancho cilli powder, cinnamon then let cook till everything is super fragrant. Toss in the olives, raisins (make sure to squeeze out any excess soaking liquid) and a dash of vinegar or lime juice, the acid will help brighten everything up, so be sure to add it in. Let cook another minute or so and then take it off the heat to cool a bit while those plantains finish baking.
Now we stuff. Once your plantains are tender, you can go ahead and make a slice down the center of each one to create that canoe shape. Try and avoid slicing through the whole thing, you don’t want that filling going all over the place, aim for about halfway through and about an inch in from each end. Then add in a few spoonfuls of the beef filling, basically as much as you can or want to add in there, top with some cheese and get those beauties under a broiler to brown on top. Once you have achieved sufficient browning on that cheese, pull them from the oven, top with a good handful of chopped cilantro. Eat up!