Pastelón de Harina de Maíz (Cornmeal & Beef Casserole)

Pastelón de Harina de Maíz Recipe (Cornmeal & Beef Casserole): Think of this as the lovechild of polenta and lasagna. It combines savory and sweet flavors and results are amazing.

“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).

Pastelón de Harina de Maíz Recipe (Cornmeal & Beef Casserole): Think of this as the lovechild of polenta and lasagna. It combines savory and sweet flavors and results are amazing.

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.

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.

Pastelón de Harina de Maíz Recipe (Cornmeal & Beef Casserole): Think of this as the lovechild of polenta and lasagna. It combines savory and sweet flavors and results are amazing.

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 Recipe (Cornmeal & Beef Casserole)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Pastelón de Harina de Maíz Recipe (Cornmeal & Beef Casserole): Think of this as the lovechild of polenta and lasagna. It combines savory and sweet flavors and results are amazing.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 cups of fresh tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 10 large tomatoes)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • A pinch of dry oregano leaves, crushed1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1.5 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
Filling
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushedA pinch of dry oregano leaves, crushed
  • 2 lb [0.90 kg] of ground beef
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly-cracked pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1½ teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
Cornmeal layers and assembly
  • 2 cups of cornmeal (polenta can also be used)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ cup of raisins (optional)
  • Extra oil for greasing the pan
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese (mozzarella is also a good choice)
Instructions
To prepare the tomato sauce
  1. Heat oil and cook and stir tomatoes, garlic, onion and a pinch of oregano, add water and sugar. Simmer over low heat until you obtain a thick (chunky) sauce. Season with salt to taste. You should obtain about 6 cups of sauce. Set aside.
To make the filling
  1. In a skillet heat oil over low heat. Cook and stir the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and oregano. Stir in the ground beef. When the meat starts to release liquid, add two cups of tomato sauce previously made (set aside remaining sauce). Simmer over low heat until most of the liquid evaporates but it is still juicy, Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To cook the cornmeal
  1. In an iron pot mix in, cornmeal, water, sugar, salt and olive oil. Let it rest for an hour (if possible).
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it comes to the boil lower the fire and continue stirring until it has the consistency of cream cheese and starts lifting from the pot. Remove from the heat.
To assemble
  1. Heat oven to 300 ºF [145 ºC]. Grease a 9" x 9" [23 cm x 23 cm] baking pan.
  2. Spread ½ of the cornmeal mixture in the baking pan,. Cover it with ½ 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.
  3. Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the tomato sauce and serve with green salad (baby arugula with an olive oil vinaigrette is perfect for this).

Comments

Leave a Reply

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