Piononos de Carne - A Puerto Rican Lasagna Roll
Puerto Rican piononos are like the lasagna-roll version of pastelon de maduro. Whereas pastelon is layered ripe plantains and ground beef, piononos are ripe plantains wrapped around a ground beef filling, held together with an egg wash and topped with cheese. These little treats make for the perfect appetizer, as they are as adorable as they are delicious. You have to make these for your next party!
4 ripe plantains
1 lb picadillo (see our recipe here: HERE)
1 cup shredded cheese (your favorite, but cheddar is very common)
Piononos are fried ripe plantains, wrapped around a stuffing of seasoned ground beef which are held together by an egg wash and topped with cheese.
So to make these, we’ll start by preparing the plantain “shells.” First, peel your plantains. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is cut off both ends of the plantain and then score one side of the skin by running a knife along the length of the plantain. Once the skin is scored, you should be able to easily peel back the skin with your fingers.
Once your plantains are peeled, we need to slice them into thin strips, about a quarter inch thick. To do this, first cut your plantain in half, lengthwise. Then holding your plantain flat against the cutting board, run your knife along the length of the plantain to cut it into two strips. Using this method, I get four strips from each plantain.
Once your plantains are cut, let’s go ahead and fry them. In my experience, the piononos turn out best if you deep fry the plantains. I’ve found that this results in the softest plantains that can be easily shaped into the round shape of a pionono. To do this, fill a heavy pan with oil to cover your plantains, about ¼ to ½ an inch deep.
Once your oil is around 300 degrees fahrenheit, add your plantain strips and fry them until they are golden brown, flipping periodically to get an even cook. As you are flipping and moving the plantains, be gentle, as we don’t want to break the plantain strips into smaller pieces--we need them whole.
As you finish frying your plantain strips, move them to a plate lined with paper towel to rest.
After you’ve finished frying all of your plantains, let them rest until they are cool to the touch. This is for two reasons. First, you don’t want to burn yourself as you work with them. And second, when the plantains come out of the oil, they can be a little stiff and will crack if you try to bend them. But as they rest and cool down, they pull moisture out of the air and get softer and more pliable, which you’ll want them to be for the next step.
Once your plantain strips are cool, let’s shape them into wheels. To do this, fold your plantain in a circle. Since a plantain is generally a curved shape, I find that putting the shorter side down results in a pleasant shape that opens upward and is easier to fill. Once your plantain is shaped, use toothpicks to hold the two ends together. I’ve found that two toothpicks do the job best, just don’t forget to take them both out at the end. Now shape all of your plantains into wheels. Inevitably some of your plantain strips won’t make it but don’t worry, we’ve planned for that. We started with 16 strips of plantain, but there really is only enough filling for about 12 piononos.
Once your plantains are shaped, place them on a greased baking sheet and fill them with your picadillo. In the video, I forgot to add the step of greasing the baking sheet, but this is important as it makes the piononos way easier to remove later.
Once your piononos are filled, we are going to top them with an egg wash, which will hold the meat and plantains together. To do this, beat two eggs vigorously until they form a homogenous liquid. Then use a spoon to add a little bit of the egg wash to each of the piononos. As you add it, try to distribute it evenly across the top of the piononos.
Once your egg wash has been added, top your piononos with cheese. Here I’m using queso de bola, but cheddar is also a very common choice. But honestly, whatever cheese you like best is fine.
Now that your piononos are all put together, let’s bake them, in order to set the egg wash and melt the cheese. Turn your oven on to 325 degrees fahrenheit and once it’s hot, bake your piononos for 15 minutes. Now let’s turn our oven up to broil for a couple of minutes in order to brown the cheese on top of the piononos. The broil setting gets really hot so watch your piononos carefully to make sure you don’t burn them.
Once the cheese is lightly browned, pull your piononos out of the oven and let them cool down.
Once cool, move your piononos to a clean plate. Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks before serving them to your hungry guests.
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.