Puerto Rican Casserole

We all have heard the word “casserole”, but who really knows what a casserole is? Well, one official definition, from a dictionary, I know, one of those old, outdated reference books many of us used to use, defines a casserole as ” a mixture of food baked in either a pottery, glass or metal baking dish”. Sounds simple enough, right?! These dishes are usually layered with potatoes, pasta or rice, often with cheese, proteins and vegetables, that all add depth and richness to the dish. The result is a delicious one-pot dish that can be spooned or cut into individual portions. Changing the layering order changes the structure, dynamics and even the taste of these dishes. Like with many other layered dishes, casseroles often taste best when made ahead of time and eaten later, so their flavors can blossom and really stand out.

The etymology of “casserole” likely dates back to the Greek “kuathion,” meaning “little cup.” The word eventually morphed into the Medieval Latin “cattia” and settled on “cassole” or “casserole,” the French diminutive of “casse”. Early casserole recipes consisted of rice that was pounded, pressed, and filled with a savoury mixture of meats such as chicken or sweetbread. Sometime around the 1870s this sense of casserole seems to have taken its current sense.

American-style casseroles, as we know them today, became popular in the 1950’s. But do you know what the first recorded casserole was? It is something that is probably even more popular today than it was when first created. Believe it or not, the first recorded recipe for a casserole was …. Macaroni and cheese, back in 1250.

Needless to say, casseroles are found in all parts of the world, in many different forms and variations. I came across a recipe for a Puerto Rican casserole, that of course I “Jeannified” to make my own. This recipe can be made with ground beef, pork or chicken or a combination of any of the three. I made mine with both shredded pork and chicken, in between layers of cilantro mashed potatoes.

Puerto Rican Casserole

Preheat the oven to 350* F or 190* C.

Spray a 89×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

4 cups cooked meat, whether pork, ground beef, chicken or any combination thereof

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1 TBSP garlic

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp cumin

salt & pepper to taste

1-2 tsp chili powder of your choice – I used chili lime

1 cup broth, chicken or beef – I used beef

2 TBSP apple cider vinegar – I used boiled cider

2 TBSP capers, drained

1/2 cup sliced green olives

olive oil and/or lime olive oil


The cilantro mashed potatoes were first. I made them them real creamy, then added both chopped cilantro and green onions, with a dash of paprika as well.

After the potatoes were made, evenly spread the first layer into the baking dish.

Cook the vegetables until tender, or about 5-7 minutes in the olive oil. I used a combination of both regular and lime olive oil.

Add the cooked meats, broth, cider, seasonings and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently for about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. If you are cooking your meats increase the cooking time considerably to make sure the meats are fully cooked.

Add the sliced olives and capers in the last few minutes of cooking. Adjust the seasonings as needed.

Once most of the liquid has evaporated, evenly spread the meat mixture on top of the potato layer, then add the rest of the potatoes on top and once again, evenly spread out to cover the whole pan. Top with paprika and bake for about 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

You can serve it as or with some of your favorites side dishes. I had some couscous salad that needed to be used, and then of course some bread and wine. A simple, yet delicious, peasant’s dish. YUM!

Stay safe, stay well, and stay out of trouble as best as you can. If you are anything like me though, that is much easier said than done. Trouble seems to find me no matter what. 🙂 ‘Til next time.


Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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