Plantains stand in for noodles in a traditional Dominican New Year's dish

For many Pennsylvania families, New Year’s Day means chowing down on pork and sauerkraut. But pork and sauerkraut isn’t the only way to attract fortune. Cultures around the world each have their own lucky New Year’s dishes.

Quite a few of these are represented in Philly, including this dish and drink enjoyed by people in the Dominican Republic. Ray Nunez of Spanish Island provided the following recipe.

Pastelon de Platanos Maduro

by Ray Nunez

4 yellow plantains
2 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
20 large green olives, pitted and halved
¼ c organic raisins (optional)
3 c water
50 g / 2.5 oz fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to to 400°F / 200°C.

Grease baking dish.

Trim ends from plantains and boil in large pot until tender, for 15-20 min. Remove and allow to cool.

Heat large skillet over medium heat and brown ground beef. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, around 2 min. Add herbs, spices, bay leaves, olives, raisins, vinegar and water. Mix well and cook, stirring occasionally, until water has mostly evaporated. Set aside.

Peel plantains and slice thinly (use a mandoline for ease). Layer plantain slices in bottom of greased baking dish. Spoon half the beef mixture on top and press to flatten. Place a second layer of plantains on top, and follow with the rest of the beef. Top with last layer of plantains and grated cheese.

Bake for 40-45 min. Remove and serve hot.

Danya Henninger was first editor and then editor/director of Billy Penn at WHYY from 2019 to 2023.