Ocala Cooks | Leslie Callahan

Leslie Callahan is a patient advocate at The VA Villages Outpatient Clinic, where she has been working “with our nation’s veterans for 35 years and there is nothing more rewarding to me.” This recipe is from Puerto Rican Cookery, by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli, which embraces Leslie’s heritage. “The book was gifted to me by a dear friend’s mother, ‘Mama Nilda,’” she shares. The late Mama Nilda wrote a sweet note in the book encouraging Leslie to make this recipe, which she has done many times. “My husband, Joe, calls it Plantain Lasagna. Though this takes effort to put together, it is delicious and well worth it. Buen provecho (Enjoy)!”

Piñón (Plantain and Meat Surprise)


1 ounce salt pork

2 ounces lean cured ham, washed and diced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

3 sweet chili peppers, seeded and chopped 

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

6 green olives with pimientos, chopped

2 tablespoons raisins

1 teaspoon capers

1 teaspoon salt

I teaspoon whole dried orégano

1/4 teaspoon vinegar

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1 can string beans, drained

8 large, ripe plantains (yellow)

2 tablespoons of oil for frying

6 eggs

3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°. 

In a caldero or heavy kettle, brown the salt pork and reduce heat to low, add vegetable oil, ham, green peppers, chili peppers, onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef and stir over high heat until barely browned. 

Reduce heat to low and add olives, raisins, capers, salt, oregano, vinegar and tomato sauce and cover and cook 15 minutes. Add string beans to the pot and mix. 

Peel the plantains and cut each into four lengthwise slices. Heat oil in a separate pan. Brown plantain slices on both sides. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. 

Beat eggs until stiff. Add salt and beat again. (You can replace the beaten eggs with shredded mozzarella.) 

In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch casserole dish, assemble the Pinón by arranging alternating layers of half of the beaten eggs, 1/3 of plantain slices, half of meat mixture, 1/3 of plantain slices, rest of meat mixture, last plantain slices and remainder of beaten eggs. 

Cook uncovered in oven for 30 minutes or until egg mixture is set and golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

To be featured in Ocala Cooks, send us an email at editorial@magnoliamediaco.com

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