Mexican plantain empanadas with picadillo: Empanadas de platano

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

This recipe is adapted from Alquímias y Atmósferas del Sabor, by Doña Carmen Titita Ramírez, proprietress of Mexico City’s famed El Bajío restaurant. The plantains should be cooked a day in advance, to give them time to “set” and make the mashed plantains easier to roll, since they are the only ingredient in the empanada “dough.” Mexican plantain empanadas are delicious filled with picadillo, but can also be filled with cheese.


  • 3 fully ripe (mostly black) plantains
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 medium white onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ pound pork butt, cooked and shredded
  • ½ pound beef flank or skirt, cooked and shredded
  • 2 ounces blanched, slivered almonds
  • 2 ounces green olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces capers
  • 2 ounces raisins
  • salt to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying

Cut the plantains in half crosswise and place them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover saucepan and lower heat. Cook about 20 minutes, or until the plantains can be pierced with a knife through the skin and flesh. Very ripe plantains have a shorter cooking time, so check for tenderness after 15 minutes. Drain and peel the plantains. Cover and refrigerate.

The following day, prepare the filling. Heat the vegetable oil, add the tomatoes and onions and sauté until the tomatoes render their juice and the onions are soft. Add the garlic and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the meats, almonds, olives, capers, raisins and salt to taste. If the mixture is very dry, add a little broth. (Mexican cooks never discard the broth left from cooking meat.) Continue cooking the filling over very low heat for 15-20 minutes. Allow mixture to cool.

In a bowl, mash the plantains with a potato or bean masher. Wet your hands or coat them with a bit of vegetable oil and roll the mashed plantains into 12 balls. Place each ball between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten them with a rolling pin, or use a plastic-lined tortilla press.

Fill each circle of dough with picadillo, pinch the edges to seal them, and fry the empanadas in hot oil, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve. Makes 12 empanadas.

Link to source articles
Mexican empanadas: Portable pockets of flavor
El platano macho: The plantain is the banana’s big brother
Immigrant Cooking in Mexico: The Afromestizos of Veracruz

Published or Updated on: September 1, 2008 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2008
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