The jibarito (pronounced “hee-bah-ree-toe”) is a very Chicago-style Puerto Rican sandwich. Instead of bread, the sandwich is held together with plantains. Traditionally, the plantains are deep-fried, not once but twice. That’s a little much for my home cooking – or at least a little too smelly for my kitchen. So for this version, the plantains are roasted, flattened and then pan-fried into a sandwich. The result isn’t quite as crispy as the original, but it’s a lot less mess and a bit lighter.
This jibarito-style grilled cheese is filled with Monterey Jack that’s flecked with spicy habanero peppers and sweet, tangy guava paste. Look for guava paste in Latin markets or the Hispanic ingredient section of your grocery store. As for the plantains themselves, choose the ripe yellow ones, not green. They’re sweeter and juicier and will provide a better texture for this preparation.
Sweet and Spicy Jibarito-Style Grilled Cheese
Makes 2 small sandwiches
- 1 yellow plantain
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 ounce Wisconsin Maple Leaf Habanero Monterey Jack cheese OR any Monterey Jack with spicy peppers (about 2 slices)
- 1 ounce guava paste
Preheat oven to 400.
Peel plantain and cut into four segments. Place on baking sheet and coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 25 minutes, turning twice.
Meanwhile, cut guava paste into 6 very thin strips, about 2-inches long. Prepare garlic and cut or tear cheese slices into 2 or 3 smaller pieces.
Remove plantains from oven and use a tortilla press to flatten each segment. Alternatively, cover each plantain segment with wax paper and flatten with a rolling pin.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Coat with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place each plantain piece in skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Flip plantain pieces and begin assembling the sandwiches in the skillet. On one plantain piece, place a layer of cheese and half of the guava paste slices. On another plantain piece, spread a thin layer of garlic and add another layer of cheese. Flip this onto the first plantain piece to form a sandwich. Repeat with remaining two plantain pieces. Cook each sandwich for 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned.
If desired, lightly sprinkle finished sandwich with salt. Serve.
Note: This recipe was developed in partnership with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for the Grilled Cheese Academy site. A stipend was provided to cover groceries.