Puerto Rican piononos and spices: Photos and recipe inside!

Good morning! Welcome to another edition of Cultural Tidbits Monday. Today we’ll have a brief Travel Through Food post, as my freelance travel writing duties are calling loudly. Yes, I still got some deadlines to meet. In light of this, I’ll be introducing you to another dish of our cuisine: Puerto Rican piononos.

Learn more: Puerto Rican food or discover other world cuisines from Travel Through Food series

Puerto Rican pionono, beef and egg

Traditional fried beef pionono with cheese and egg (Photo: dylanheaney, Flickr, All Rights Reserved. Photo used with written authorization)

Puerto Rican piononos, crab stuffing

Puerto Rican piononos: Crab stuffing variety from New Yorican chef in Maine (Photo: Dana Moos, Flickr)

Puerto Rican piononos: What are they?

I like to call Puerto Rican piononos savory cinnamon rolls. Substitute the dough strips with sweet (ripe) plantain slices, then stuff them with marinated ground beef and cheese instead of cinnamon and sugar. Now, bake them or deep fry them. Yum! While ingredients may vary from town to town, the most common variation is the way the ground beef (or seafood) stuffing is marinated.

Puerto Rican piononos: The main spices

Typical spices in Puerto Rican piononos, and most Puerto Rican dishes, include adobo and sofrito. Both are concoctions of vegetables and spices, made differently across the island. Thus, flavor of the ground beef can vary from sweet to fiery hot. Just to give you an idea of the spice variations, I have included photos and descriptions of different Puerto Rican sofritos and adobo mixes below.

Puerto Rican piononos spices

Puerto Rican piononos: Spice blend options for the ground beef stuffing

Sofrito may be made at home or bought pre-made at the store. There are 2 kinds: Recaíto and regular sofrito. The main difference between the two? The sofrito base is typically red, made with red cubanelle and tomatoes. Conversely, regular recaíto base is made without red cubanelle and tomatoes, so it is typically green.

Other ingredients shared between the two varieties are olive or annatto oil, sweet ají peppers, garlic, inions, roasted red pepper, oregano and sometimes cilantro. Both recaíto and sofrito are very aromatic, concentrated, and flavorful.

Puerto Rican piononos, dry adobo varieties

Adobo dry mixes are almost always bought pre-made at the store. Nowadays, very few families still make it from scratch at home. Base typically includes dry oregano, salt, garlic and onion powder. The “flavors” described on the bottles above are ingredients that are either added or omitted to the base mix.

A sample of dry mixes is pictured on the right. In the pink cap, is adobo seasoning with saffron. To its immediate right, with burgundy cap, is a bottle of adobo with hot/chili pepper. At bottom left, adobo bottle with bitter orange. Lastly, in the blue cap, is a bottle of light adobo, which has 50% less sodium and contains no black pepper.

Puerto Rican piononos: recipe twists

Now that you know what Puerto Rican piononos are, I’ll leave you with a recipe twist video for you to try at home. Let me know how they turn out! ;)

Low-cal diet? Got a Puerto Rican piononos recipe for you, too! Click here

Have you had Puerto Rican piononos? Would you try them?

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4 thoughts on “Puerto Rican piononos and spices: Photos and recipe inside!

  1. I watched the video of Chef Benet…I do believe he is making personal pastelons and not piononos. Piononos are traditionally fried, not baked.

    • Everyone has their way of cooking them, though. Yes, they are traditionally fried, but can be baked if you want to be a little healthier! ;)

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