Pastelón de Arroz (Rice Casserole)

Pastelón de arroz (Rice casserole) Recipe: There seems to be as many versions of this dish as there are homes in the Dominican Rep. This one is my family's.

A few years back, as part of an advertisement campaign, a certain local company had a funny commercial in which a newlywed husband called his wife on his way home to ask what she was cooking for supper. We never see the wife, but the husband gleefully repeats what she says:

– “Pastelón de arroz?!”

The following day the same scene repeats itself, with the husband slightly less enthusiastically repeating what his wife says on the phone:

– “Pastelón de arroz!”

Pastelón de arroz (Rice casserole) Recipe: There seems to be as many versions of this dish as there are homes in the Dominican Rep. This one is my family's.

As the story progresses, and it seems obvious that the wife cannot cook anything else than this dish, we hear him repeating with increasing despair:

– “Oh, pastelón de arroz…”

This story is apropos of nothing really, my husband and I just found the commercial hilarious, and every time I cook this delicious casserole (not really that often, in my defence)  my own husband jokingly imitates the husband in the commercial and exclaims:

“Pastelón de arroz?!

Pastelón de arroz (Rice casserole) Recipe: There seems to be as many versions of this dish as there are homes in the Dominican Rep. This one is my family's.

The story ends with the husband hastily making a U-turn, after the umpteen time he hears “pastelón de arroz”,  while telling his wife that he is in a meeting at the office and to “give it to Fido, I am sure he loves it”.

It’s a rare commercial that we remember nearly a decade after it aired, but this one was funny. It was like the husband was trapped in his own culinary groundhog-day reality.

OK, so it doesn’t take much to amuse us.

Aunt Clara

Pastelón de Arroz Recipe (Rice Casserole)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Pastelón de arroz (Rice casserole) Recipe: There seems to be as many versions of this dish as there are homes in the Dominican Rep. This one is my family's.
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb [0.45 kg] of minced pork
  • 1 onion diced into very small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon of basil finely chopped (may be omitted)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste), divided
  • A pinch of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce (not the same as the one listed below)
For the tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 12 large tomatoes, seeded, peeled and diced
  • A pinch of oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper, or to taste
For the white sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1½ tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of evaporated or whole milk
  • ½ cup of grated mozzarella cheese
To assemble
  • 6 cups of cooked arroz blanco (see recipe)
  • ½ cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1½ cups of finely chopped spinach
Instructions
For the filling
  1. Mix the meat with onions, basil, oregano, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  2. In a shallow pan heat oil over medium heat. Add the meat and brown. Pour in water and tomato sauce.
  3. Simmer covered over low heat. Stir frequently.
  4. When the meat is cooked through (about 7 minutes) season with salt to taste.
  5. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the tomato sauce
  1. Heat the olive oil over low heat.
  2. Cook and stir the garlic until it releases its aroma, be careful that it doesn't burn. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano. Cover and simmer over low heat until the tomatoes are cooked through.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the white sauce
  1. In a separate pan heat the butter over low heat.
  2. Add the flour and stir vigorously until the two are well mixed.
  3. Add the milk and stir until it reaches a uniform consistency.
  4. Add half the cheese and keep stirring until it becomes a thick cream.
  5. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To assemble
  1. Mix half the rice with half the cheese sauce and the spinach.
  2. Mix the other half of the rice with the remaining cheese sauce.
  3. Apply oil to a 4-inch tall baking pan (this oil is not in the list ingredients).
  4. Heat up the oven to 350 °F [175 ºC].
  5. Spread the rice mixed with the white sauce. Press down.
  6. Cover with the meat and top with the rice with the spinach. Press down.
  7. Top with the cheese.
  8. Bake until the top starts browning. Remove from the oven.
  9. Serve the casserole with the tomato sauce on the side.
Notes
The rice is measured cooked.

Comments

  1. Yvette Pagan

    Aunt Clara, first of all I really want to thank you for sharing with us our Dominican recipes. I am one of your biggest fans. I made this Pastelón de Arroz last night and it was outstanding!!
    My husband loved it! Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *