We’re down to the last few weeks of winter. Rather than pine for the warmer weather that’s around the corner, why not take advantage of cooler temperatures to indulge in all that’s soothing and filling? Of all the Caribbean comfort foods, plantains are the most versatile. Even if you bring home too many, you’ll always find a use for them. Bought green to make tostones, they can easily become mofongo. Let them turn completely yellow, they can be steamed for a quick side dish of plátano sancochado. Forget them altogether until they’re almost completely black, they can still be fried up to make maduros.
With a few yellow plantains on hand at the perfect mid-point — sweetly ripe but still firm enough to be boiled — I decided to make a Puerto Rican pastelón de plátano maduro. Similar to a shepherd’s pie, the plantains are mashed together and layered with picadillo flavored with oregano, olives and capers, tomatoes and raisins then topped with cheese and baked. The lower layer absorbs the juices from picadillo while the cheese crust balances out the sweetness from the plantains.