Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fried Sweet Plantains

fried plantains platanos maduros
Here's another traditional Cuban recipe from my childhood. The secret to irresistibly sweet plantains that are crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth creamy in the middle is twofold. First, buy plantains that look like rotten bananas: The skin is almost or totally black and the plantains feel soft if you press the skin. They are not spoiled; rather, they are perfectly ripe and honey-sweet. Second, make sure the frying oil is hot enough, which means 375F degrees if you you have a frying thermometer, or hot enough so that a plantain sizzles vigorously when you drop it in the oil. Fried sweet plantains, called "platanos maduros fritos" in Spanish, are a delightful side dish to hearty savory dishes, especially meat dishes like steak or Cuban picadillo. Three medium plantains make enough for 4 to 6 people, but don't be surprised if diners beg for more!

Peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying
Very ripe plantains

To peel the plantains, use a very sharp knife to cut off the ends, then pierce the skin somewhere in the middle and slide the knife lengthwise down the plantain. You may want to make one or more similar slits, and then peel off the skin -- be careful as the plantain flesh will be very soft and mushy. Slice the peeled plantains into 1/4" thick diagonal slices. In a large heavy skillet heat the oil to 375F degrees or hot enough so that a plantain slice sizzles nicely when placed in the oil. Once the oil is hot enough, add the plantain slices in a single layer, leaving just enough room for you to be able to use a slotted spoon to turn them. Fry the plantain slices on each side until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Use the slotted spoon to remove the fried plantains and place on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve as soon as possible. If you're making a lot and need to keep a batch warm before you're ready to serve them, simply hold in a warm (200F degrees) oven. But they're best when served immediately.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

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