The Jibarito is a sandwich made with flattened, fried green plantains (instead of bread), garlic-flavored mayonnaise and a filling of meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato. And the best part is that this paleo dream of a meal was created right here in Chicago!
This Puerto Rican sandwich originally had a steak filling but other ingredients such as chicken and pork are common substitutes. If you frequent a Puerto Rican restaurant here in Chicago you’ll find several different meat alternatives offered as options.
I first learned about the jibarito sandwich from my friend, and co-author of Paleo MX, Ana. She wrote about her experience trying her first Jibarito and then searching for them all over Puerto Rico, on her blog.
My First Jibarito Experience
The first night I learned about these paleo sandwiches was several years ago. I was hosting a pot luck at my house for the Paleo Chicago Meetup group and Ana brought mini jibarito sandwiches for everyone to try. I thought they were quite a labor intensive meal to bring for a potluck so I was impressed with both Ana’s commitment to make enough for everyone and of course the flavors of the dish!
I initially thought she had just created the dish herself and given it a specific name but then I overheard her and my friend Anthony sharing their jibarito experiences. They were discussing where the jibarito originated, the different ways it can be prepared and where to find a really good one in the city.
My First Jibarito In Chicago
Skip to just a few months ago in January when I finally went with the two of them to experience a jibarito at a Puerto Rican restaurant in Chicago. We were planning to go to Kai Zan, a sushi restaurant in Humboldt Park, but we hadn’t made reservations so when we walked in and they were completely booked we needed to find someplace else, stat. So we walked around the area and wound up dining at Papa’s Cache Sabroso where I was able to finally try my first restaurant-made jibarito.
I thoroughly enjoyed that sandwich! There’s nothing like going to a restaurant and ordering something off the menu, without having to make adjustments. Actually, the only thing I asked for was to remove the cheese. #dairyfree
The Makings of a Paleo Jibarito Sandwich
I came home that night and couldn’t stop thinking about that sandwich. The very next day I decided to pick up what I needed from the store and make one myself.
Thankfully, I already had some Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo on hand. If you don’t have a jar of this paleo mayo, you can find it on shelves at Whole Foods or you can order it at a cheaper rate from Thrive Market.
In the meantime you can always make your own mayo and create the garlic mayo by combining some garlic powder and mayo in a bowl, seasoned to your liking.
I wanted to go as traditional as possible with this recipe so I went with a cut of grass-fed beef and grilled the steak in my Lodge cast iron grill pan on the stove top.
The most labor intensive part of making a jibarito at home is pressing and frying the plantains. I used my tortilla press to help get an even thickness on the plantains. If you don’t have a tortilla press, no worries, you can place the plantains between two strips of parchment paper and flatten them with the weight of a cutting board instead. Once that’s complete and your choice of meat is cooked, all you have to do is put everything together and serve.
Gotham Greens is a Chicago-based company that grow their produce in New York & Chicago and I enjoyed using their Butterhead Lettuce with this dish.