Fruit is pretty great and all, but how much better is it when deep-fried? Am I right?
Well, I know I am. Having grown up on Nuyorican restaurants, I’ve been a pretty rabid plantain fan for a long time. But one longtime frustration was that I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to recreate these delicious little fritters at home. But, after much experimentation and web browsing, I’m happy to report I’ve started to get the hang of it. The secret turns out to be the same secret as every other delicious restaurant food: you’ve got to throw all delusions of semi-healthiness to the wind. Oil, baby. Lots of it. Like seriously, gallons. Cooking plantains in a tablespoon or two of oil always resulted in bland, starchy discs with not-quite-right texture, but once I worked up the courage to really douse them in oil, I’ve been able to make both sweet, rich plantains from super-ripe bananas, as well as crispy, more hearty ones from green bananas.
You don’t necessarily need a deep-fryer, but you need to cut those plantains thin, fill your saucepan up with a whole lot of the golden stuff, get it nice and bubbly, then let ‘em fry for just a few minutes.
That dilemma solved, obviously I was ready to start getting a little wacky. As much as I love eating plain crispy plantains with the simple garlic sauce they serve at Puerto Rican places, I wondered if they couldn’t stand for a little spicing up at home, so I took three different attempts at crafting a more creative plantain. No, this is not a lame, haute cusine “three-way” dish, but merely three different ways they can be prepared…
1. Plantains in Tomatillo Relish
For the first attempt, I decided to stick with the Hispanic flavors but just add a little more umph to the mix. I took four green tomatillos and pulsed ‘em up in the food processor with a clove of garlic, half a jalapeno, olive oil, and salt. When the plantains were just about done I threw this salsa/relishy mixture into the pan and mixed it all up, so that each bite of banana comes with a spicy little kick.
2. Spicy-Sweet Maybe-Asian Plantains
Now, getting a little more confident with my plantainability, I wanted to branch out a little further. When my next batch of plantains were about half-way cooked, I amped up the pan with a hunk of chopped ginger, a dash of sesame oil, some honey, and again, garlic. Finished it on the plate with a drop of sriracha on each slice. Is this blending of ingredients totally wrong? No idea, but the spicy-sweet treats tasted totally right.
3. Plantains con Bacon
Bet a lot of you saw this coming. Sorry if you veggies and flexitarians are sick of hearing it, but the eternal truth holds up once again: Food is good, food is better with bacon. First I fried up three strips of bacon, getting ‘em nice and crispy. Then I took the bacon out of the pan, but left the grease in there and fried the plantains up in those. As stated earlier, they didn’t get quite the right texture since they didn’t have a whole vat of grease to soak in, but who cares, because each slice was coated in bacon flavor, and then topped with crumbled bacon. Another win for team pig.
How do you prepare your plantains? Got any cooking tips or unique toppings? Feed Us Back.
More Bacon: Recipes, raves and other bacon bits in Endless Bacon.