Glory be to Plantains
I love me some plantains. *sings Roast or Fry*, yes I know its about Breadfruit, let me live.
Mention plantain outside of the Caribbean, and the first thing you hear is "fried", but there's so much more that you can do with them. This is not the time for an "eggplant" type joke.. this is a family friendly blog.
I'm not a lover of plantain chips (for those who don't know, Caribbean folk eat plantain chips much like Americans do potato chips), not the regular kind anyway, I will only eat them if they're sweet. Which in a way is kind of strange, because I like tostones. I'm guessing that I like the sweet variety of the chips, because I like my plantains fried thin and crisp. I'm forever trying to figure out how to use local produce in classic dishes. I was minding my own business a few days ago and an idea popped into my head. I thought "self, you know what would be kinda delicious, hash browns made from plantains". I had some firm half ripe plantains that I got from a lady in the market (and a little extra because she gave me a little nice up freeness) and I got to experimenting. I generally use coconut oil for everything, most other oils are horrid things, but I didn't have enough oil and I put too much plantain in the pan, it was a disaster, an under-cooked clumpy mess. This morning however... enough oil, smaller portions and Robert is your mother's brother. It's a simple simple simple thing, it just looks pretty, and people think that pretty food is complicated. I keep telling you guys, don't be afraid to try something just because you think it'll be difficult to make.
When I say simple..
Heat oil in frying pan
add a blob of grated plantain to hot oil
smoosh (that's a culinary term by the way) it down with a spatula or fork
let it fry until the edges are crispy and sprinkle with salt and pepper
repeat that crispy edge step
remove from oil and drain on paper towel, brown paper, whatever you use
If you want, you could use a riper plantain and add cinnamon and nutmeg, fry that and add a scoop of ice cream or a rum/fruit syrup or honey.. the possibilities really are endless.
While on the topic of plantains, you could sub a cooked plantain for potato, and make a salad, you could also use it like you would in a green banana salad, with or without the saltfish. The other day I was craving something sweet, and I remembered my mom telling me about roasting plantains. So, I cut a plantain in half, then halved it lengthwise and made some slits in it and popped it in the toaster oven on full blast (maybe a half hour) at the end I sprinkled nutmeg, cinnamon some brown sugar and some nutmeg syrup that I got on a trip to Grenada last year. The syrup isn't sweet, nor overly nutmeggy (what? if irregardless is a word now, I can make things up too). Let that heat a bit and took it out. Simple and tasty, snack or side.
Kiddos, always remember: Plantains are for life, not just Christmas.