Cooking

Try Something New: Fried Plantains

The last bite of the platains. Not shown: tear-filled eyes.

I love Cuban food. Love it. I’m not a fan of the heat and humidity of Florida, but get absolutely giddy about the prospect of scoring some excellent Cuban food.

One of the best parts of any Cuban meal? Fried plantains, or platanos maduros. Yet for all of my love of them, I’d never actually attempted to cook them on my own, which is completely ridiculous. After all, I have the guidance of the Three Guys From Miami. I’ve been downloading recipes from their website for more than a decade, and absolutely love their Three Guys From Miami Cook Cuban cookbook.

While checking out the new Sprouts, I spotted plantains, on sale, for dirt cheap. It was time to give maduros a whirl.

The trick to platanos maduros is that you need really ripe plantains. Really, really ripe. Yellow with black spots on the skin is ok. Black skin is better. Why? The riper they are, the sweeter they are, and the more the natural sugars will caramelize when they’re fried.

Serve the maduros with black beans, rice and one of my favorite meals, ropa vieja.

Ingredients

  • Ripe plantains (1/2 plantain per person)
  • Peanut, grapeseed, canola or other high-temperature oil, enough to fill the pan about 1/2 inch deep
  • Granulated sugar (optional)

Instructions

Heat the oil on medium-high. I’ve been told that you can tell it’s ready when a drop of water sizzles in it. However, that drop of water will cause a dangerous case of thermonuclear spatter. I use a strip of the plantain peel: hold at one end, dunk at the other, and if it sizzles, you’re good to go.

Cut the plantain into 1-inch thick slices, cut on a slight angle to look pretty. If the plantains are on the slightly less ripe side of the spectrum, roll in granulated sugar to simulate the natural sugars and create the awesome golden brown crust.

Add the plantains to the pan. Cook for about 1 minute per side, then reduce heat to medium low. Continue cooking until golden brown.

Carefully remove the maduros from the pan and drain on a rack or paper towels. Serve warm.

Results

These tasted exactly like the ones in Cuban restaurants! I can’t even tell you how delighted I was to nail this one on the first try.

But the big surprise was that the Tiny Kitchen Assistant declared his love for them. Mind you, this was after he was forced to try them in the first place. He loved them so much that he nearly cried when he realized that I hadn’t made more. So, in the future: one plantain for the adults to share, and one whole plantain for the Tiny Kitchen Assistant to enjoy.

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