As I’ve mentioned before, my weekly meals are usually dictated by what’s on sale at Whole Foods. This is probably not the most efficient way to grocery shop, as I have no shame blocking the meat cooler as I look up recipe ideas around a specific ingredient. It’s a creative process, really. When I approached the butcher and saw thinly sliced round beef steak all pre-packaged nice and pretty, a song of redemption immediately played from the skies above (not really, but last time I tried to make bistec encebollado, I didn’t marinate the meat long enough and it was blah to me). Paired with the prominently displayed bright green plantains I’d just thrown in my cart, this was a no-brainer. I haven’t had a proper jibarito since I left Chicago (see my Yelp review on Boston’s version), so I decided to take matters into my own kitchen.
There are two major components that will make or break your jibarito, one being the meat, and the other the platano itself. The toppings are debatable and a matter of preference. As it was originally intended, the jibarito is topped with a swipe of mayonnaise, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato. For my homemade version, I used bistec encebollado (steak cooked with onions), Boston bibb lettuce, tomato slices, chipotle mayo, and a jalepeno mild white cheese. Also, I’m pretty awful at frying platanos to make tostones, and for the sake of being slightly more healthy, I opted to bake my tostones rather than fry them. Important to note, I don’t own a tostonera (press) , so the cooking process doubled as an upperbody/core workout.
I based my bistec on this recipe I found on the trusty dusty internet. The only difference is, instead of cooking in a skillet, I used my slow cooker, because I like to justify the purchase and it makes the meat oh so very tender. I let my meat, onions etc marinate in the fridge overnight in a ziplock bag, just under 24 hours, before dumping it all in the slow cooker and cooking on low for roughly 4 hours (time depends on your slow cooker) as I went about my merry way.
I followed Skinny Taste’s directions for baked tostones almost to a T, except I sliced my plantains in half lengthwise to mimic bread instead of making 1/2″ slices. And since it’s just the two of us in our household, I only used two plantains. And I (generously) brushed my platanos with a mixture of olive oil, adobo, pepper, and a teaspoonish of lemon juice before placing them on my baking sheet (lined with foil and lightly sprayed with canola oil cooking spray). The lemon juice is clutch. I can’t even believe I’m sharing that secret with you because I thought it was pretty genius and really added to the flavor of the tostones. After the first rotation in the oven, and smashing the plantains into proper tostones (laboriously, between wax paper using a giant plate), I added crushed garlic to my olive oil mixture and lightly brushed the plantains before putting them back in the oven. Perfect flavor. Mmmm.
Slice your tomatoes (if tomatoes are your thing), wash and dry your lettuce, slice your cheese if you didn’t buy it pre-sliced… We had to make our own chipotle mayo because they didn’t have any at the grocery store, which consisted of throwing a couple chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce in the blender with regular old mayo. Or you can go the plain mayo route. Or go crazy with mayoketchup (the official sauce of Puerto Rico, which is exactly what it sounds like). Up to you!
Once your tostones are baked to perfection, and your bistec is cooked to your desired temperature, you’re ready to assemble your jibarito. Basically, cut one toston in half, swipe each side with mayo. Place as much meat as desired on one toston half, top with a slice of cheese followed by onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. Then, top it off with the other half of the toston and repeat until your belly is full and happy.