Thursday, September 21, 2006

Big Bananas!

Well, not really bananas, but Plantains! These are a cousin of the regular bananas, found in the tropics and used a lot in Latin cooking. Its flavor is similar to that of a banana, however as far as I know, yellow, green, or black, these are always cooked before being eaten. (Does anyone know if they can be eaten raw?)
I had eaten them before, but this was my first time cooking with plantains. They are used in cooking more as a vegetable, rather than as a fruit, but there are desserts made with very ripe plantains also.

The recipe I made stated that the plantains should be black all over, so I had to wait almost a month for it to ripe in my counter (inside a paper bag) before I was able to use them. Yes, I bought them green, and had no idea it would take so long for a plantain to ripen; they were all green at the store, and you know, bananas usually turn black within a few days, so I guessed these would be similar…well, living and learning!
When green the plantains are starchier, even a little glutinous, almost like a potato. And since sweetness has not developed at this stage, they are used to make plantain chips and other savory concoctions.
As they get a little riper and turn yellow, these big bananas start to get sweeter, making them suitable for an array of savory dishes, where they can be fried, sautéed, baked, etc.
Black plantains have a softer skin and are the sweetest ones. When cooked they retain their shape more than a ripe banana does though, and are delicious browned in a skillet with some butter. Which by the way is how I made today’s recipe!!
Maduros, as this dish is called, is basically very ripe plantains sautéed in some butter with sprinkles of salt and pepper. Easy to make and so flavorful! My husband enjoys eating plantains at a local Cuban restaurant, so he really liked when I decided to make them at home. Plus, I believe these were a lot healthier, as the ones he likes are usually deep-fried.
The taste reminds me a lot of bananas of course, however these have a deeper flavor and texture than its familiar counterpart.
We liked it and now I will certainly adventure myself more into the world of plantains, as I know I still have a lot to learn about them. Any recipes suggestions out there?!

Plantains in a bowl, tossed with salt and sugar (by the way, I used less sugar than the recipe specified and it was very sweet).

Maduros (Sautéed Sweet Plantains)

Use plantains with completely black skins, which indicate that they are fully ripe.

4 cups (1/2-inch-thick) slices soft black plantains (about 6)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well.
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add plantains; sauté 5 minutes or until browned and tender. Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 1/3 cup)

Source: Cooking Light, September 2006

Maduros, warm and ready to eat, yum!!


Fezoca said...

Ana, nao me lembro do nome dessa banana no Brasil - da terra, ouro, d'agua? Mas eu me lembro muito bem que comia ela pura, como qualquer outra banana! :-)
Acho que cozida o gosto dela se acentua e melhora. Eu tambem frito na manteiga. Eh uma delicia, mas aqui elas veem verdes mesmo e demooooooora pra conseguir usar. As vezes acho umas maduras no super, mas eh bem raro. beijos! :-)

renata said...

Banana da terra.Wow!!! Se a minha mãe (que mora em MT) chega aqui em casa sem trazer farofa dessa banana é capaz dela nem passar da porta rs. Essa banana é única ! Eu a preparo de muitas maneiras inclusive na manteiga. Pena que a que tem aqui em Brasília nao sao boas, sao aquelas que amadurecem a força. As de MT sao bem docinhas.Mais uma para meu vocabulario porque nao sabia que ela tinha esse nome em ingles. Voce é um anjo caído do céu. Bj

paz said...

Yum, yum, yum! Wow! It took a very long time for your platanos to ripen but they look soooo delicious! The wait must have been worth it. I wish I were there when you cooked them! ;-)

By the way, you can't eat plantain raw. It is best to cook it. I believe that's why in some places it's called the cooking banana (as opposed to the regular banana, which you can eat without preparation).

I love the fact that your maduros are much healthier than the ones made outside.

Paz (who's going to look for plantains today!)

Karen said...

Adoro bananas em pratos, apesar de não usá-las muito!

Akemi said...

Acho que já vi estas bananas enormes num mercado daqui, mas eram meio rosadas. Que interessante, não sabia que devem ser cozidas antes de consumi-las! Como vc disse, vivendo e aprendendo! Adoro banana com arroz e feijão! :P
Outra coisa que aprendi a gostar foi cartola, que comi lá em Natal. Banana da terra frita na manteiga de garrafa com queijo coalho derretido por cima e polvilhado com canela e nescau! Bão!!!! :D

Erika said...

Yum. I love plaintains fried up and then served over plain white rice. Delicious. It's definitely been a while since I've had plantains, I need to fix that.

ness said...

i love plantains and have had them both fried and baked. here's another way to have them once they're ripe:
cut a vertical slit through the ripened plantain making sure to not cut through all the way. basically, you'll be making a pocket for the rest of your ingredients. you can either top it off with some cooked ground beef and shredded mozzarella or even just the mozzarella by itself is more than ok. bake it in a 375 degree oven, just till your cheese has melted. the sweetness of the plantain and saltyness of the cheese just make for an awesome combination.