I’ve been to the Dominican Republic. Not the touristy spots but the REAL Domincan Republic. A group of us went down for Engineers Without Borders to design and raise funds to build a hydroelectric generator for a small, remote village that the government refused to supply power to. During our trip, we stayed at a retreat center where Dominican women cooked us authentic meals from scratch. This one, right here, was everyone’s favorite. It has taken me 4 years to find a recipe but I finally did here. Despite a burning desire to do so, I restrained from putting peanut butter in this recipe since it was my first attempt. Did I put some peanut butter on top and taste it together? Yes. Will I be incorporating peanut butter next time? Absolutely.
6 very ripe plantains*
2 Tbsp butter or equivalent
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (??? – untested!)
1/4 cup milk, plus more as needed
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used 75% Cabot Cheddar)
1 lb lean ground beef, turkey or pork
2 tsp of oil
2 Tbsp of tomato paste
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
*Note: How do you know if your plantains are ripe enough? There should be at least this many brown spots:
1. Chop the plantains into sections (leave the skin on) and place in a large pot with 1 tsp salt. Fill the pot with water until the plantains are covered. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil, then add the garlic, onions, red pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook through, about 5-7 minutes. Drain the grease and add 1/4 cup water along with the tomato paste and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well and simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
3. When the plantains are bright yellow and very tender (stab with a fork to test), remove them from the pot and place in a large bowl. Peel and mash them with the back of a fork, then add the butter, peanut butter (if you’re feeling adventurous) and 1/4 cup milk. Mix until smooth, adding more milk as necessary. You want the plantains to be creamy enough to spread, but stiff enough to hold their shape – similar to mashed potatoes.
4. Spread half of the plantain mixture evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Then distribute the beef mixture on top, followed by the rest of the plantains and top with cheese.
5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, then switch the oven to broil for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is browned and crispy.
First – you must make this dish, it’s phenomenal. Second – if you make it with peanut butter, you must tell me!