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Toñob Díaz-Royo and Cruzmaría Nazario.
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, July 25, 2002.
for Sid on his 80th Birthday
With our best wishes
This is the recipe we prepared for a dinner party in 1981 while we were both at Hopkins. You (Sid) were unable to attend since you had traveled outside Baltimore but friends from the Department, students and professors, came that night.
Piñón de plátano maduro, carne molida a la criolla y habichuelas tiernas.
[Piñón: Ground meat a la criolla, ripe plantain and string beans]
22 cups of ground meat stuffing (See preparation below)
3 large ripe plantains, peeled (Tip or orejita: do not substitute with bananas)
1 tablespoon of butter
5 large eggs, separated
Pinch or poquito of salt (1/4 teaspoon)
half pound of fresh string beans, steamed but crunchy, cut lengthwise (French style)
[orejita: This dish resembles a lasagna in its presentation]
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Prepare the ground meat a la criolla using the recipe below, set aside
- Halve the plantains crosswise, slice each section lengthwise in four
- Bake the plantain slices on a lightly buttered cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until tender, but still firm. Remove and let them cool. (orejita: you could also fry the plantains using butter, but be careful since they tend to caramelize)
- Grease a heavy skillet or oven dish with a tablespoon of olive oil, or—if you can afford the calories and cholesterol—with lard.
- Beat the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks. Beat in the yolks just enough to mix them with the whites.
- Set the skillet or dish to be filled in layers on top of the stove at low heat.
- Pour about 2/5 of the beaten eggs on the bottom of the skillet and immediately layer it with the cooked plantain slices, completely covering the bottom on the dish or skillet.
- On top of the plantain layer, lay the ground meat stuffing and then place another layer of string beans.
- Cover with a layer of plantain slices and pour another fifth of the beaten eggs around the sides of the skillet to come up to the rim.
- Continue cooking at a very low heat for 4-5 minutes.
- Pour the rest of the beaten eggs on top of all and transfer immediately to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, separate from the sides of the skillet or dish with a sharp knife or spatula
- Drain off any fat from the pan by carefully tilting while holding the dish with a plate.
- Turn the piñón over on a serving dish. Or cut squares serving size and serve one for each guest.
- Let it stand for 15 minutes before slicing. (Serves 6-8 guests, or less, if dealing with añorante Puerto Rican migrants in the US).
Ground meat stuffing.
The ground meat stuffing is of the essence of the Piñón. It is called picadillo para rellenos.
1 pound of lean ground meat from pork or beef, or any combination of them. (orejita: other meats could also be used in different proportions).
1 ounce pork fatback, diced very small or 2 tablespoons of olive oil. (Tip or orejita: could be substituted with oil, but it would not taste the same...)
2 ounces of finely minced cooking ham (Think of the possibilities of combining Caribbean or Spanish cured ham).
3/4 teaspoon of salt (orejita: This will depend on the type and amount of ham included, use less or none if you have used the very salty type).
Sofrito: Half a cup of onion diced, a small cooking tomato (orejita: try to avoid the salad type, but you could use green firm tomatoes found in US Markets), a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper (orejita: or bit of Adobo Criollo which is not the same as the "adobo" in Mexican dishes—that can be found in any Spanish Market up North), 3 to 4 small seeded pimientos dulce [orejita: mind you, they are not sweet nor hot, they are small and round cooking pimentos with a wonderful and distinct taste], one seeded green pepper, all finely chopped.
1 or 2 pressed medium garlic clove (orejita: you could add more, if you and your guests like the taste of garlic)
10 to 12 small chopped pitted green olives, the type used for sofrito (orejita: you can get this type of cooking olives in bodegas under the Goya brand, but could be substituted).
1 tablespoon of capers, minced.
3 cup oregano (orejita: if you grow it by the window during even during Winter, use more of the fresh green leaves, but if not, use ground dry oregano).
2 cup of tomato sauce (orejita: use your own home-made tomato sauce, but it could be substituted with the commercial type).
Raisins, (a few) but they are optional.
- Render the fat from the fatback in a large skillet over medium heat, or heat the olive over medium heat.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and saute the meat and ham until lightly browned. Remove, seasoned with salt -to taste and set aside.
- Discard all the but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the sofrito (the chopped vegetables ingredients, for 5 minutes. (orejita: the onions should be translucent, not too dark or burned)
- Add: garlic, olives, capers, oregano, tomato sauce, and the optional raisins. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Return the meat to the pan. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use in your recipe or refrigerate/freeze until ready for use. This recipe
will provide 32 cups.
Dulce de Mamey
This dessert is only prepared when mameyes are in season. In the supermarkets they can be found under the name Mamey Sapote.
One 4-5 pound ripe but firm mammee
12 cup of unsweetened pineapple juice
3 cups of sugar
- Peel the mammee and be sure to peel off with great care the thin beige membrane covering the reddish flesh. Be certain not to leave any portion of said membrane since it is highly toxic.
- Quarter the mammee and remove the big central seeds. Peel off the though part-beige membrane—to which the seed is adhered and remove any small bits that stick to the reddish flesh.
- Cut the meat into 2 or 1 inch pieces. One should have about 2 pounds.
- Mix the pineapple juice in a heavy saucepan with the sugar and stir until it is dissolved.
- Add the mammee and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and boil uncovered until you achieve a light syrup (approx 220° on a candy thermometer).
- Stir occasionally and remove any froth.
the fruit is soft and its color intense (deep orange or red), remove from
the heat, let cool and refrigerate.
Serve always with white cheese, preferably Queso Blanco del Pa’s available in Spanish bodegas in NY, Chicago and Philadelphia. (Or a firm cheese such as Muenster or the twisted strands of white goat cheese.)
Happy birthday Sid!