Cooking in Quarantine: Sheet Pan Mojo Meatballs & the Ultimate Tostones

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Sheet pan dinners are super easy, but they can get boring if we are always roasting up chicken and vegetables. This week I went on a Cuban-inspired cooking spree. My family loves Cuban food. We mourned when our only Cuban restaurant in Roanoke shuttered its doors a few years ago. It was one of those places you could go enjoy tasty dishes like ropa vieja, cassava, and cilantro-forward black beans and rice. Miss that place. I blogged about my love of it in a previous post, Hot Time in Roanoke.

For this spin on sheet pan dinner, I went with mojo meatballs. A post from Bon Appetit inspired this meal. I didn’t stop there though- I made some scratch Tostones, and black beans and rice like Havana Cafe used to make. It was a little more labor-intensive than the usual sheet pan dinner, but so worth it! It does require some specialty items for the store, but you can help yourself by buying a bottled Mojo sauce- I like Badia.

Mojo Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅔ cup panko (You could also use any other type of breadcrumbs you have in the pantry)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil,
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated if you have a microplane, otherwise finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, minced (deseed if you want to lower spice level)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 vidalia onions, cut into wedges
  • dash of salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 500° and cover a sheet pan with foil
  • In a mixing bowl, combine pork, cilantro, egg, panko, spices, olive oil, grated garlic and minced serranos
  • Using your hands, mix until just coming together- don’t overwork the pork
  • Toss onions with 1 Tbsp. oil on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper
  • Roast in preheated oven until you see some brown charring, about 15 minutes
  • Remove onions from oven and spread to perimeter of pan. Form your meatballs, should be about 8, and place in center of pan
  • Roast until meatballs are firm to touch, about 15 minutes- you can temp if you want and pull at 165 degrees

Meanwhile as the meatballs are roasting, let’s get those tostones going….

Tostones

Ingredients:

  • 5 plantains (I like them pretty green)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • A large plate for smashing

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in a large, deep pan
  • Peel and cut plantains into 1-2 inch chunks

***Tip***To peel a plantain, cut off the ends and make a slit down the center of the peel. Crack that slit open and work your fingers down the body of plantain as skin separates from flesh.

  • Fry plantains in oil for about 3 minutes per side and remove to a paper towel
  • Using a plate, or other item at your disposal, smah down on plantains so they look like weirdly-shaped pancakes and return them to the oil for crisping
  • Flip after about 1 minute and immediately season with salt as you remove them (these are really good the first night, but a little tough the second night- they make a delicious hash)

Black Beans & Rice

I went the easy way on these since the tostones were a little time-consuming.

  • I like Rice Select products, and their Texmati rice is delicious. I made one serving of rice, and followed the directions on the container. You couold also use minute rice, riced cauliflower, or whatever you like best.
  • For the black beans, I am a Goya fan, but again use what you like. I opened a can, threw them in a microwave-safe bowl, and added 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon, dried cilantro, and 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder. I microwaved them for a minute, added salt and pepper and voila, easy black beans!

If you are feeling ambitious, you can make mojo sauce from scratch. I like this recipe. But, if you are not, buy yourself a bottle of Badia Mojo and drizzle over top of meatballs and BBNR…nom, nom!

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