Thursday, July 18, 2013

Platanos Maduros

If there's anything Joel loves, it's bananas. Often times, I'll call him my little monkey because he loves them so much and can eat his weight in bananas alone! Aside from your usual everyday banana, he is especially fond of plantains. For our recent 'Havana Nights' cooking party, I included these Platanos Maduros on our menu since plantains are a staple in Cuban cuisine. Ripe plantains are sliced and pan fried until lightly browned just enough for the natural sugars to come out, resulting in sweet slices of slightly caramelized bananas...

When I was a child, my mom would take ripe plantains, slice them, coat them in brown sugar and pan fry them until cooked through and all the natural sugars would come out to caramelize with the brown sugar. Now as a mom myself, I've done the same for Joel and he loves them. For our 'Havana Nights' party, I skipped the brown sugar coating and pan fried, allowing for the natural sweetness to shine through.

You can find plantains at most supermarkets these days, but I would recommend going to a Latin market if possible. They will not only have plantains available at various stages but most likely will be at a better price and quality. When shopping for plantains, you'll probably notice a few kinds - those whose skin that are green, yellow, or even black. Plantains are used in various dishes depending on the color of their skin. Green skinned plantains are typically unripe or young, resulting in a much more starchier dish. These are often used to make tostones, which are plantains that are twice cooked. Yellow skinned plantains are ripe, that don't have as much starch content and are sweeter than green plantains. These are often used in stews or salads because they can hold its shape in cooking. Lastly, black skinned plantains are overripe and are the sweetest of them all. Very similar to regular everyday bananas, these black skinned plantains are often used in sweet applications. For these Platanos Maduros, I would recommend using black skinned plantains so they are nice and sweet. If you have trouble finding black skinned plantains, you can help with the ripening process by placing green or yellow skinned plantains in a paper bag with an apple. The natural ethylene gas apples give off will help the plantains (and other fruit) ripen faster.

Plantains are a staple in my kitchen since Joel is such a fan so I usually have ripe ones on hand just in case Joel has a craving. These make for a nice snack or side dish to accompany any Latin inspired meal...

Platanos Maduros
recipe from my mom

1 very ripe plantain with black skin
Canola or corn oil

Heat enough oil in a skillet so that the oil is about ¼ of an inch deep. Peel the black skin from the plantain and slice it diagonally into rounds that are about ½ inch thick. 

Add the plantain slices and cook until the bottom is golden brown. Turn over each slice and cook until both sides are evenly golden, with a hint of caramelization on the edges. 

Remove from oil and transfer to paper towels to drain; pat off any excess oil. Serve hot.