What is a “Pastelon”?
It’s a form of lasagna-style casserole in which a number of ingredients can be used to create it. A lot of people use sweet plantains or regular plantains to make the layers along with seasoned ground meat, and sometimes cheese is added, or bread crumbs.
For this recipe I used sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, with a vegetable cream mix.
The sweet potatoes have to cook thoroughly in a large soup pot, along with the regular potatoes; everyone in the same pool! I used 3 large regular potatoes and one large sweet potato. You want to keep it in medium high for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally. They’re not meant to be eaten as wedges or eaten right after they are mashed. You want them to soften quite nicely, without them being too mushy. Yes, there is a fine line between nicely mashed, and overly cooked to the point of it turning into pudding. lol
Drain the water from the potatoes and add them back into the pot; make sure you’ve turned off the heat from the stove. But you want to bring it back onto where it was cooking just so it’s a little warm while mashing and mixing. In the pot add a cup of milk, grated/powdered parmesan cheese (maybe a cup), a pinch of cinnamon, thyme, salt and sugar. Salt can be optional. I added a table spoon of salt because I didn’t add the parmesan cheese. I’m used to the idea that if I add one salty ingredient I don’t continue to add additional salty ingredients unless it is absolutely necessary; same goes with sweets.
Once you have all the ingredients you may proceed to mash everything together. I love to use a whisk. It’s always been the perfect mashing tool for me. I have a potato masher. And I’ve found a regular whisk works best.
I used a round baking pot to bake my pastelón. This is why we wanted the potatoes to me a little extra soft. We want to create a crust on top, so we don’t want the potatoes to be just perfectly softened, because they will dry out in the oven.
I used non stick cooking spray to cover the pot. You may butter the pot if you like. The idea is to not have the potatoes stick. Using a serving spoon I add two scoops of the potato mix in the bottom of the pan. I spread the potatoes until the entire bottom of the pot is covered. On top of this I add the vegetable cream mix.
The vegetable cream mix is very easy to make. You may add fresh peas, diced carrots, green beans, mushrooms, and any other vegetable you like into a sauce pan. The cream can be made by reducing a few cups of heavy cream, a pinch salt and pepper, a few finely chopped garlic cloves, a large table spoon of butter and half a cup of green onions. Whisk this on medium high heat until it becomes nice and creamy. You’ll know this when you dip a spoon in the cream and the spoon becomes coated.
Once the cream is still hot add the veggies in the same pot and stir with the stove turned off. After a few minutes the vegetable cream mix is ready to add as the second layer of the pastelón. Spread evenly, and on top of that add the remaining potatoes. You may finish off the top with bread crumbs or cheese. It’s up to you.
Set the oven to 450 degrees Celcius and preheat for about 10 minutes. Set the baking pot in the center of the oven so it cooks evenly. This will create a very nice crust on top, and you’ll notice the bottom will get a little crispy too. Leave in the stove until the top of the pastelón is golden brown. This may take a little while. It can be 15 minutes, or it may be less. Depends on how your oven works. Keep an eye on it, and remove when you feel is nice and crusty.
This was an absolute delight to taste. The potatoes on their own were sweet and creamy, and the vegetable cream mix was a wonderful addition. I served with with a side of salad, but you may eat these just as is. They’re hearty and a mouthful of deliciousness.
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I hope you enjoy!