Pastelón de harina de maíz (Cornmeal & beef casserole)

Pastelón de harina de maiz (Cornmeal casserole)

“Is it because you don’t love me anymore?” Ah, my husband, always so funny.

About a decade and a half ago I was trying to find my culinary style. For the first time in my life I was in charge of cooking for someone else, and that someone else turned out to be somebody from a culinary culture far removed from my own. Luckily my husband, also raised on staples, turned out to be as adventurous as me. We are always willing to give things a try (within reason).

Peeled tomatoes

Fast forward to today and things have changed considerably. Both our cooking repertoires have evolved significantly,  we’ve tried new cuisines, been around a bit (actually, a heck of a lot, in my husband’s case). Things were left behind.<

This week we had dinner  at Noah, a restaurant locals know and like well. One of their dishes, beef on a base of sweet cornmeal, brought memories of our first kitchen adventures as a couple, and how this dish was always a favorite of my meat-lover husband. All of a sudden he noticed I hadn’t cooked this in nearly half a decade, which prompted the question at the top of this post.

Pastelón de harina de maiz (Cornmeal casserole)

I think this is one of those dishes that once tried,  you’ll definitely add to your own repertoire. It just looks refined, while still being simple and easy to prepare, not to mention that it makes for the perfect dish for potlucks and leftover meals.

Think of this recipe as the lovechild of polenta and lasagna. It combines the best of both worlds, but with an added twist: as in many of our dishes, this one combines savory and sweet flavors. For the filling, you can use chicken, vegetables or beef (or just use cheese). Beef should be your first choice though; it just goes well in this combination.

For the record, I don’t think there is an ounce of Italian in this dish, it is purely, unadulterated, industrial-grade Dominican.

I’d love to hear what you think of mixing savory and sweet ingredients in a meal.

By the way, the answer to the question is “I still do”.

Aunt Clara

Pastelón de harina de maíz (Cornmeal and beef casserole)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 4

Pastelón de harina de maíz (Cornmeal and beef casserole)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cornmeal (polenta can also be used)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 grated cheddar cheese (mozzarella is also a good choice)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of raisins (optional)
  • Salt
  • Filling
  • 2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Tomato sauce
  • 6 cups of fresh , or canned tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1.5 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Salt

Instructions

    To prepare the tomato sauce
  1. Heat oil and sautée the tomatoes, garlic, onion and a pinch of oregano, add water and sugar. Simmer over low heat until you obtain a thick (chunky) sauce. Add salt to taste. You should obtain about 5 cups of sauce. Reserve.
  2. To make the filling
  3. In a shallow pan heat oil. Sautée the onion, bell pepper and garlic, adding a pinch of oregano. Add the ground beef and stir so it cooks evenly. When the meat starts to release liquid, add two cups of tomato sauce. Simmer over low heat until most of the liquid evaporates but it is still juicy, add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  4. To cook the cornmeal
  5. In an iron pot mix in 2 cups of water, cornmeal, sugar, salt and two tablespoons of olive oil. Let it rest for an hour (if possible).
  6. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it comes to the boil lower the fire and continue stirring until it starts lifting from the pot. Remove from the heat.
  7. To assemble
  8. Heat oven to 300 ºF (145 ºC).
  9. Spread 1/2 of the corn mixture in the baking pan,. Cover it with 1/2 of the cheese, then the meat. Spread the remaining cornmeal mixture and cover with the other half of the cheese. Bake until it turns golden brown.
  10. Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the tomato sauce and green salad (baby arugula with an olive oil vinaigrette is perfect for this).
http://www.dominicancooking.com/409-pastelon-de-harina-de-maiz-corn-flour-casserole.html

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{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Carmen Rosa February 1, 2011, 2:08 PM

    That looks so delicious. I will definitely try this.

  • Gina Hernandez February 1, 2011, 6:24 PM

    I just made this today! It was very easy to make and came out so delicious!!! Love the combination of sweet and savory flavors!

  • Aunt Clara February 1, 2011, 6:54 PM

    I am happy to hear that.

  • isabel April 27, 2011, 7:55 AM

    i love when your recipes show pictures of the steps as well. i wish all of your recipes were like this.

  • Aunt Clara April 27, 2011, 8:14 AM

    The most recent ones do. It's not so easy doing the whole site at once, but eventually I hope to revise all the recipes to add step-by-step pictures. This may take years as we have 10 years worth of material in the site and I keep adding new recipes every week.

  • Lauren @ hey, who cu September 27, 2011, 12:24 PM

    This looks soo good! I never would have thought to combine cornmeal and beef like this. Thank you for sharing!

  • Nadia October 28, 2011, 6:33 AM

    I love your website. As a dominican/american girl living in Germany it's great to find a website with all my favorite dominican staples. And I'm pregnant so…. ¡que antojo! I want to make them all at once. :)

    • Aunt Clara October 28, 2011, 6:35 AM

      My 6 yo is also called Nadia, and for a second I was thinking "what is that kid up to now?". Pretty name, eh? And good luck with your pregnancy.

  • Sonia November 19, 2011, 10:05 AM

    My beloved late mother, Teresa, used to make this for us and we absolutely LOVED it! She used to add some tomato sauce on top and then added some parmesan cheese on top. She used to serve it with a salad of chayote, onion and tomatoes with olive oil/vinegar dressing. OMG! How I miss Mama's cooking. Even though I can "attempt" to cook as good as her, the love she put into her meals was out of this world. Her arepa was my absolute favorite with some delicious Dominican coffee. Dios mio, que ricura! Mami, I love and miss you dearly.

  • Sarah December 26, 2011, 5:21 PM

    Love this!! So yummy. Question anyway of automatically adjusting the recipe ( like a serving calculator)? My family is huge sometimes 8 servings and sometimes 15.

  • Alicia January 9, 2012, 12:28 PM

    In step 4, what am I cookin bringing to a boil???? Im not understanding it right…am I boiling the corn meal?

  • Jamie June 9, 2012, 10:47 PM

    OMG Im so making this dish for my dominican husband, he'll love it!!

  • Ingrid January 24, 2013, 11:01 PM

    Good Lord I LOVE this dish. My madrina “que en paz descanse su alma” would make this dish. Me, my mom’s pickiest eater would “go to town.” Thank you so much for having it here! :-) I will make an attempt to duplicate the recipe.

  • Michelle September 26, 2013, 5:59 PM

    Making this now…. Thank goodness for you!!!

    • Michelle September 28, 2013, 11:45 AM

      This turned out great. YUMMY :)