Don't you dare call it a "Puerto Rican Shepherd's Pie."
Uhhhh…I literally thought today was Tuesday. I missed an entire day. I haven’t been sleeping much in the last week. I think the change of weather and the SUDDEN loss of daylight (dude, why the fuck is it dark at like 5PM already?) is really messing with my…cicada rhythm (rimshot). No wonder those fuckers make so much noise during the short time they come to visit us every year.
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PASTELON DE YUCA
Yields 2 servings
1 - 18 ounce bag of frozen yuca*
1 large russet potato, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup of milk*
3 tablespoons butter***
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef****
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon salt-free sazon
2 leaves fresh Recao/Culantro, optional
1/2 cup unsalted tomato sauce
Splash of olive brine
1/2 cup sofrito
1 cup shredded Gouda
Preheat oven to 400°F
In a large pot, over high heat, bring your salted water to a boil. Boil your yuca and papas until they are fork tender. Remove the woody stem from the center of the yuca and discard. Drain water from the pot, keeping the yuca and papa in the pot, place the pot back on the stovetop with the fire off.
Add 1/4 cup of milk and 3 tablespoons of butter and mash the yuca and papas with your preferred mashing method. I just use a whisk. Set aside.
In a skillet, over medium high heat, add your beef to your skillet and season with salt, pepper, sazon and combine with meat. Brown your meat for 4-5 minutes.
Add in your fresh culantro, if using, tomato sauce, olive brine, 1/4 cup of your sofrito and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add in the remaining sofrito, combine well, take it off the heat and set aside. Allow to slightly cool.
In an 8x8 non-stick pan, place a layer of your yuca/papa mash in an even layer as thin or thick as you want. Then place a layer of meat mixture. Then another layer of yuca/papa mash. Top with shredded Gouda or any cheese of your choice.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. I like my cheese on the brown/crusty side.
*If you can’t find frozen yuca, then you can use fresh. It’s just a pain in the ass to peel. And it might take longer to boil, but just rely on the “fork tender” method, rather than trying to time it.
**Can also use any milk substitute of your choice.
*** Salted or unsalted, TBH it doesn’t matter.
****Anything above , 92 % lean / 8 % fat is considered “lean.” If this is beyond your budget and you’re using the standard 80/20, that’s totally fine. Maybe just omit using the olive oil as this ratio of ground beef tends to release a lot of oil.