Friday, February 5, 2016

Maduros (Sweet Plantains)

I credit my husband with a lot of my exposure to delicious cuisines from around the world. When we were dating, we enjoyed exploring new restaurants all around Seattle, often selecting them because either A) we had a coupon or B) because we had a coupon. It was fun to go to school in the "big city" where we had access to endless options.

I was a traditionalist at heart and a big fan of chivalry so the fact that my then-boyfriend would always pay for dinner really wooed me, even if there was that whole awkward coupon thing when the server brought us the check. But hey! It meant we got to go out twice as often since the coupons usually scored us 50% off our bill. The other perk of having coupons was that they more or less forced us to try food from all around the world as foreign restaurants were most often the ones featured in the Entertainment Book, our faithful coupon source. On our dates, we traveled to the food worlds of Brazil, India, Thailand, Mexico, Russia, Puerto Rico, Ethiopia, Morocco and Cuba, to name a few.

I never once questioned how my full-time-college-student-unemployed-during-the-school-year boyfriend was able to afford to take me out. He had money saved up from his summer jobs that lasted for a lot of the year so it wasn't until MUCH later (we're talking years here) that the truth was revealed about how a handful of our dates may have been funded: Crozier boys, during college, had in their possession, an "emergency" credit card a la Dad to help them out when they were in "dire straits." And apparently wooing a woman quickly turned into such an emergency when money was scarce. I would have DIED of embarrassment had I known this was going on at the time so I'm really thankful that I didn't.

In retrospect, this was a really smart move on the part of my in-laws - what better way to keep tabs on their nearly-grown sons than to track them by where they were spending their money! To this day, I really don't know what conversations my now-husband and his dad might have had behind the scenes, but I would like to think my father-in-law read between the lines of those credit card statements, saw what was happening, and let the spending continue. In his silence, he cast his vote of affirmation for Graham and my relationship. Whatever the case, a HUGE THANKS goes out to my father-in-law for all the EMERGENCY dates he may have funded*, whether he liked it or not! But I mean. He landed two pretty stellar daughters-in-law this way if I do say so myself. ;)

Back to topic...I want to tell you about the humble but oh-so-delicious plantain, one of those multi-cultural foods that Graham and I were introduced to during our dating years. Growing up, I had always seen plantains in the produce section and mistaken them for either under or overripe bananas. The trick with plantains is to cook with them when they are at the peak of their ripeness. Unlike bananas, plantains are most desirable when they are black in color and soft to the touch. It can be pretty tricky to find them ripe and ready to go at the supermarket so plan ahead and buy them early and allow them to ripen in a warm place on the counter or on top of the fridge for at least 5 days or even a week or longer. Your best indicator of ripeness of course will be their color but you'll also know when peeling them if they are ripe or not. If it is hard to remove the peel, they are probably not at their peak. The good news though is that this recipe can still be prepared with under ripe plantains (mine almost always are, no matter how hard I try to plan ahead). You may have to increase the sugar in the recipe a little, as plantains naturally sweeten as they ripen, but they will still turn out delicious. We always serve these as a side dish when we make Cuban Mojo Marinated Pork or Cubanos (Cuban Sandwiches).

Maduros (Sweet Plantains)
(adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

4 large plantains, sliced about 1/2-inch-thick (the blacker exterior the better)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

In a medium-sized bowl, toss together plantain slices, sugar and salt to coat.

Melt butter in a large non-skillet over medium high heat. Add seasoned plantains to the skillet, spreading to distribute so as many of the cut surfaces as possible are touching the bottom on the skillet. Saute, turning often until plantains are soft and nicely caramelized on the outside, about 7-9 minutes.

Serves 4

*Graham would like to interject that he "mostly only used" the emergency credit card for gas! ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment

posted by kelsie