Everything you need to know about Plantains!
Plantain! The larger, starchier & less sweet brother to your everyday banana. Plantain is a great versatile addition to a grain free life. In this entry, I will go through the different stages of the plantain from green to brown & what to make with it!
There is something so enticing about the smooth texture of this fruit, the subtle sweetness contrasted by sea salt & garlic.
Plantains are wonderfully delicious! I hope I can persuade you to try them out and discover how fun they can be to cook.
Green Plantain is great to use as you would a potato. Ideal for frying & crispy foods. When the plantain is green it is at its least sweet point & firmest.
Traditional uses for it are mariquitas, also known as plantain chips & tostones (fried smashed plantain).
The peel is hard to remove, one should use a sharp knife to create a slit down the side and peel outwards.
Green plantain can be peeled in advance and kept in cold water with lime juice to prevent discoloration.
How to make mariquitas:
1 large green plantain (for bigger batch use 3 large plantain)
2/3 cup coconut oil or grapeseed oil (if making 3 plantains, use more oil, 1 cup)
You can slice your plantain 2 ways:
Lengthwise with a potato peeler or in very thin circular slices. I’m partial to circles.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet, I use cast iron- to 365F. You can check temperature readiness by inserting a wooden spoon in the oil, if it crackles, it’s ready.
Add your plantain to the skillet, do not overcrowd, you may have to work in batches.
Use tongs to turn them a few times while frying.
They will become golden/yellow when done.
You might have the extra thin slice (you know the one!) go a little brown.
They will be done in 1-2 minutes. This moves fast folks!
Use slotted spoon or tongs to remove from skillet & place on plate lined with paper towel, sprinkle with salt. Serve with mojo. I like to use mine to scoop up avocado with lemon.
*Yes, you can bake them too. Sheet pan, thin sliced. Lots of coconut oil spray over and under. Spread them out in one layer. 400F for 5 minutes.
Mojo (pronounced Moe-hoe) is a dip made from mashed garlic, salt & pepper, made in to a smooth paste with mortar & pestle. Whisked with sour orange juice, oregano & olive oil. You can put that stuff on anything. It’s amazing!
A second very popular use of the green plantain is Tostones! Fried, smashed & fried again, these crunchy plantain rounds are great for dipping into eggs, topped with pulled pork or served as an appetizer or party dish.
How to make tostones:
3 green plantain (the wider the better, technically Cuban’ use a different, shorter/fatter plantain for this, but it’s a lot harder to find)
1 cup coconut oil (have more ready in case needed)
Peel plantain, cut into 1-2 inch rounds. Heat oil to 365F in a heavy, large skillet.
Place plantains rounds in oil, don’t crowd skillet.
They won’t be submerged, when bottom halves are yellow, turn them over. When also yellow, remove them from oil.
Cook them approximately 2 minutes per side, checking that the bottom isn’t turning brown.
Place on a large cutting board or flat surface.
Unless you have a tostonera (a press made to flatten plantain)- use a small soup pot or bottom of espresso maker- something not breakable and flat to smash your plantains down.
You’re not going to squish them to hell. You need to press down firmly but slowly, just until they are about ¼ inch thick.
(Note: it’s easier to flatten when warm so don’t let the rounds cool too much).
Then fry next batch of rounds and flatten. Once all your plantain is flat. Re-fry in the same skillet, a minute on each side, they will be a deep golden color and be extra crispy around the edges.
Set them on a lined plate to cool off a bit. Salt. Enjoy!
You see a theme here with the green plantain- fried works! So they make great French fries etc.
A more modern use for the green plantain that does not include frying is Tortillas… get my recipe HERE.
A new plantain recipe with green plantain…CAKE!
Yellow plantain are a little softer than green and a little sweeter. It’s nice to play on that sweetness with contrasting flavors like salty pork, spicy garlic or a spicy chimichurri.
Although not traditionally used this way, yellow plantain has become popular for slicing in 1/2 inch diagonal slices and pan frying. These tender, semi-sweet slices make a great side dish. It’s also perfect for blending in to plantain pancakes!
When you boil yellow plantain, you cut it with the peel on into 2 inch pieces and boil it submerged in water. When the plantains expand and the peel parts to show the plantain, it’s ready to eat. Carefully remove hot plantain peel, and mash it up. A whisk will work nicely.
A classic Cuban dish– Fufu is made by boiling plantain in this fashion then mashing it with mortar & pestle with whole garlic cloves, rendered pork fat & sea salt. Then served with freshly made pork rinds crumbled on top. For research’s sake I made this recently, pork rinds and all (holy batman delish!).
This consistency of plantain is also great for soups! Boiled plantain can be mashed and rolled into balls, then set out to dry (30 minutes will harden them) & later added to soup or stir-frys. They are also popular for being baked into tortillas (not the taco kind, a Spanish baked egg pie). Baking the plantain whole, with the peel on is yummy too! Just pop it on the rack, bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Then carefully open to a soft sweet plantain.
Plantanos Pinton, are yellow-green plantains, regular plantains between green and on their way to ripening. So if you’re green plantains begin to ripen, don’t despair!
For a quicker way, I would make it frittata style.
In an 8 skillet with coconut oil, some garlic & greens, brown yellow plantain slices then add in scrambled, seasoned, eggs and bake at 350F until eggs are set.
Lastly, we have the brown plantain.
That’s right- you can let them ripen until they are black! They will look practically bubonic on the outside and still be edible. This is how the original sweet plantain is fried, we call them maduros (which mean ripe!). It’s really nature’s candy. I have one getting there right now and am having paleo banana foster’s dreams. I’ll keep you all posted!