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Article Published February 11, 2021

Celebrating Diversity with Some Good Old-Fashioned New England Pies

By Lee White/

Even though I was born in New York State, and went to college there, too, I have always considered myself a New England girl.

My husband and I met in New York City and we lived in New Jersey for a few years, but as soon as we could, we moved to New England, first to Massachusetts and then to our home in Connecticut.

I have always had a subscription to Yankee magazine, and we liked two- or three-day weekends much more than going somewhere for a whole week. On those weekends we would drive to Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Two days at a hotel in Boston was divine. As for Rhode Island: We would have dinner at Al Forno or, sometimes, just drive to Providence for dinner on Federal Hill.

These days, with a pandemic and with fewer friends to drive with, I often snuggle into bed with Yankee magazine and dream about the places we had been or wished we’d visited.

A few nights ago, after watching two hours of Longmire on television, I went to bed with the January/February issue of Yankee. It was all about pies. In a wonderful article by Nadine Nelson about Common Ground, a New Haven, Connecticut, high school, urban farm and environmental education, she wrote about Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Peace Through Pie project, a national nonprofit and communities fundraising in February, Black History Month.

The article was great, but which pie to make?

Samosa-style potpies, root vegetable cheese tart, pear-cranberry cheddar pie with hazelnut crumble—how about a casserole-like pastelon, a Puerto Rican dish that includes plantains, available in most of our shoreline supermarkets?

Next week another pie: Civil Rights Spiced Sweet Potato Pie, also for Black History Month.

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at

Puerto Rican-Style Shepherd’s Pie

From Yankee magazine, January/February 2021

Yield: 6 to 8 servings



2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 ripe plantains (yellow with black spots), peeled and

halved crosswise

3 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for the pan

(unsalted butter is fine)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon adobo seasoning*

1 medium onion, diced

1 small green bell pepper, diced

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon paprika (preferably smoked)

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup tomato sauce

1/3 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced

2 teaspoons capers (optional)

2 large eggs, beaten

1 ¼ cups shredded Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or

cheddar cheese



Season a medium pot of water with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add plantains and simmer until tender, 15 minutes. Transfer plantains to a bowl and mash with 3 tablespoons butter until smooth. Set mixture aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a medium baking dish; set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and adobo seasoning and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until it is browned. Remove beef from pan and transfer to a bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add onions, pepper, cumin, paprika, and oregano; cook, stirring until translucent, about 6 minutes. Return beef to skillet and add tomato sauce, olives, and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat.

To assemble casserole, spread meat mixture in the bottom, Pour eggs over meat mixture, then spread plantains over that. Top with cheese. Bake, uncovered, until cheese is golden brown, 30 minutes.


*I did not have adobo seasoning, but I did have chipotle in adobo, so I used a teaspoon of that instead.