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Plantains, Platanos

Ripe plantains can be peeled as easily as bananas. But the green ones require special handling, since the thick skin clings to the fruit and tends to break off in little pieces. There are a few techniques for achieving this. one is to score the plantain along the seams lengthwise.

Plantain flour is used in babies formula for diarrhea.  Green, boiled plantains are a great remedy for hangovers. Plantains can be prepared in a thousand and one ways. They are one of the main staples of the islands.

BOILED PLANTAINS

Make sure plantains are very green for this since otherwise they will be sweet. Cut plantains in half and then in half lengthwise once more, to get four pieces. (Some people prefer peeling the plantains for this. However, I find that if the peel is left on the plantains while boiling, they keep more nutrients and taste better.  When the plantains are cooked the skin falls off  and can easily be removed). In a pot large enough for the amount you are preparing, fill with enough water to cover plantains, add the plantains and about 1 teaspoon salt, cover the pot and boil for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the peel comes off easily. Then add about one cup of tap cold water and boil for another 10 minutes.

MANGU (Pronounced mangoo) - MASHED BOILED PLANTAINS

When the plantains are ready, remove from water and mash with a potato masher or food processor, adding little bits of the water they were cooked in to reach a desired consistency. Test just as you would with a boiled potato. Add olive oil to taste. If you use a food processor be careful not to run it too long since it will cause the plantain to become pasty. Serve mangú with eggs, sausage, bacon; or saute some onion slices in olive oil and top mangú; or with escabeche; or serve plain as a side dish to dinner instead of potatoes. Be brave and  experiment.  If it sits to long, it will start drying. Simply add more water from the cookpot and mix.

platanos2

FRIED GREEN PLANTAINS - TOSTONES

Plantains can be fried at any stage of ripeness: green, medium ripe, very ripe. The taste is very different according to the ripeness. Choose very green plantains. Peel and cut in about 1 inch thick  slices. Place in salted water for an hour before frying. Dry with paper towels. In a deep enough frying pan, heat enough oil to cover. Drop plantains in the oil and cook until golden. Don’t over cook. With the help of two plantain peels, or a special gadget that is sold at Latin markets made from two pieces of wood hinged together, or very thick paper, squash and shape nicely. Now for the second fry. The oil should not be too cool nor too hot. If you have a cooking thermometer, the temperature should be around 350°F.  Drop in salt water right before you re-fry them. Drop in the oil and cook until very golden but don’t allow them to get too hard. Remove them from the oil, place on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Serve hot.

Note: A lot of Hispanic supermarkets now carry frozen tostones. They are not as good as the fresh ones, but come in handy when you are in a hurry.

PLANTAIN CHIPS - TOSTONCITOS

Use very green plantains. Peel and cut in very thin slices. (The thinner the better since you want the thickness of a potato chip). Wash under the faucet and dry with paper towels. Don’t cut more than you will be frying right away or they will turn black.  In a deep frying pan, heat enough oil to cover. Drop in the hot oil, moving them around, and cook until golden yellow on both sides. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt  and serve.

fritos maduros

FRIED RIPE PLANTAINS - FRITOS MADUROS

The ripeness of the plantain will determine the sweetness of the frito. Peel plantains and cut in slices (either lengthwise, or diagonal) about 1/4 inch thick. The oil should not be too hot to avoid them getting burned edges. Drop in oil and cook until tender.   These can be eaten this way dredged with salt, or cinnamon sugar, or my favorite, with a dusting of creole seasoning, or can be used in many recipes.

BAKED RIPE PLANTAINS

Again ripeness depends on preference. After peeling, remove any fiber or dark area. Brush plantains with melted butter and wrap in aluminum foil. Cook for about an hour at 350°F. Remove from foil and serve. Slice lengthwise and butter. You may want to sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Cajun seasoning.

STRING BEANS AND RIPE FRIED PLANTAIN CASSEROLE

Important: My friend Harlow suggested I included this note since he has had a very difficult time making this dish. Never fry the plantains before you cook the beans. They are so delicious that you can’t help but to eat them all and won’t have enough for the dish:)

4 very ripe plantains
Oil for deep frying
1 pound String beans
1 medium onion
1/2 Bell pepper or 1 Cubanelle pepper
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon Recaito
About 1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons milk
Shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup chicken stock
Water

STRING BEANS:  In olive oil, suttee one small onion, bell or Cubanelle pepper, garlic, Recaito (see Recaito), and string beans, tomato paste, and about water. Cover and cook until vegetables are cooked.

PLANTAINS:Fry very ripe plantains as explained under fried  ripe plantains. Drain on paper towels.  

In a deep casserole dish, place plantain strips in a lasagna fashion to create a layer. Next, place enough string beans to create a second layer and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, add another layer of plantains, and so on alternating until all ingredients are used. The top layer should be plantains. Beat  eggs with  salt and milk, pour over casserole. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 450°F.

Variation: You can add to the layers ground beef, pork or lamb browned and seasoned. * Hint: This is a great surprise side dish at Thanksgiving.

LOW-FAT VERSION

This is a version I have developed with much less fat but just as tasty.

4 very ripe platanos
1 pound string beans, steamed but crisp
1 medium onion
1/2 large bell pepper or 1 Cubanelle pepper
About 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon recaito
About 1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons milk
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 cup chicken stock
Water

PLANTAINS:peel plantains and wrap together or individually in aluminum foil. Bake in oven at 400°F for an hour. Let cool a little and then slice the same as you would for frying. Set aside. Or split the peel lengthwise in a couple of places. Place in microwave for about 3 minutes. The platanos cook very fast, depending on your microwave. So keep an eye on them.

STRING BEANS: In olive oil, suttee one small onion, bell or Cubanelle pepper and garlic until onions are transparent. Add beans, recaito and tomato paste. Add enough water to cover and cook covered until the water has reduce and a nice sauce has formed. Set aside.In a deep casserole dish, place plantain strips in a lasagna fashion to create a layer. Next, place enough string beans to create a second layer and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, add another layer of plantains, and so on alternating until all ingredients are used. The top layer should be plantains. Beat  eggs with  salt and milk, pour over casserole. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 450°F.

FRIED PLANTAINS ROLLS - PIO NONO

3 ripe plantains each cut into four lengthwise slices
Lard or oil for frying

STUFFING:

3 tablespoons annatto oil (see annatto).
1 pound Lean ground beef or pork.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 oz. boiled ham, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
2 tablespoons pimento stuffed olives chopped
3 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
Oil for deep frying

Heat the oil or in a heavy (preferably cast iron) and cook the plantain pieces on both sides until they are golden. Remove carefully to a platter and pat with paper towels. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, shape each slice into a circle and secure with a toothpick. Set aside.To make the filling heat the annatto oil in a heavy frying pan and saute the beef until it is browned and all the particles separate. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers, and cilantro; saute until tender. Add the tomato paste, ham, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring until the mixture is well blended and thick. Stir in the capers and olives. Remove from the heat. Fill each plantain ring with the meat stuffing, dip in the beaten egg, and deep fry in the hot oil or lard on both sides. Serves 6.

platano flower

 

 

Browse and please, if you find any typos or want to comment please write to me. Thanks

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