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?!
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