Piononos (Stuffed Savory Plantain Pinwheels)

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors(yellow, orange,green, red,chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique,distinctively fruity flavor.

It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. minced, seeded Scotch bonnet chile
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion, green and white parts, minced
1/2 medium Spanish onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
12 oz. ground pork
2 tsp. cumin seeds toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant, and then ground
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 large plantains, yellow but starting to turn black
1/2 cup canola or peanut oil
1/2 cup finely grated Manchego cheese


Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the Scotch bonnet and garlic and stir for about 15 seconds. Add the scallion, onion, bell pepper, poblano, and cilantro. Saute over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and aromatic. Stir in the pork and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Peel the plantains and slice them length-wise into 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick strips. In a 12″ nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Saute the plantains in batches of 3, without crowding, until golden brown, 1-2 minutes on each side. Be sure not to get them too dark, or theyll turn brittle. Transfer the plantain slices to paper towels to drain.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

When the plantain strips are cool enough to handle, one at a time, spread each strip with a thin layer of pork filling. Roll it up — it will look like pinwheel — and secure with a toothpick. Place the piononos on a parchment-lined baking sheet and top with the grated cheese.

Place the piononos in the oven for 10 minutes, or until heated through. Transfer to plates and serve.

Recipe by Norman Van Aken from New World Kitchen (Ecco, 2003).