Fill baked plantain halves with a mixture of ground beef, ham, bell pepper and tomato sauce for a hearty Puerto Rican appetizer.
Dash of salt
2/3 pound ground round
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped lean smoked ham
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh culantro
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
8 yellow plantains, peeled
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare stuffing, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add salt and beef; cook 2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Stir in bell pepper and next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 5 minutes or until bell pepper is tender. Discard bay leaf.
To prepare plantains, working with one plantain at a time, cut a small portion from the outer curve to make a flat surface. Make a lengthwise cut on the inside curve, being careful not to cut all the way through (plantain will now resemble a canoe). Carefully scoop out about 1 tablespoon of plantain from center cut to allow room for filling. Repeat with remaining plantains. Place plantains on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush oil evenly over plantains. Sprinkle plantains with 1/4 teaspoon salt and red pepper.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until plantains are tender; let cool slightly. Fill each plantain with 1/4 cup stuffing; top each with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until plantains are tender and cheese melts.
Use a spatula or dough scraper to hold open the hot plantain while you fill it.