Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breakfast Plátano

Plátano, or plantain as is called in the US, comes from the banana family but it is much more starchy than our every day eating bananas and can be cooked either sweet or savory.  In South America and Southeast Asia, I find it frequently sliced very thinly and fried up like a potato chip. Sometimes the cook (or manufacturer in the case of bagged chips) has chosen to sprinkle the chips with sugar, sometimes with salt, so if you have a preference (mine is always salt) read your ingredient list carefully.

Plantains are ripe when their skins are very dark, sometimes even black.  The riper they are, the sweeter they become.  Green plantains are hard and inedible unless they are cooked thoroughly. Imagine eating a cloying, very dry, raw potato.  We prefer the ripe ones.

This is how we cook ripe plátano or plantains for breakfast. It’s simple, nutritious (if you don't heap the sugar on) and delicious.


Using a sharp knife, cut a slit down one side of the plantain and then the other, so you can peel the skin off the top half of the fruit. 



Cut the plantain into diagonal slices, making sure not to cut all the way through the bottom skin.



Place the slices in a non-stick skillet with a couple of pats of butter and a drizzle of oil to raise the burning temperature of the butter. Plain butter alone scorches easily which will give you an undesirable burnt flavor.  (I always add a tiny bit of oil whenever I sauté in butter.)




Turn the heat down to low and let the plantains cook, covered, for several minutes.  As they start to brown, turn them over.


Continue to cook them with the lid on until both sides are browned and the plantains are fork-tender, meaning you can poke a fork in them with no resistance at all. 



Turn them over once more so that the original side is up again. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, or to taste.  Let the sugar melt and then turn them over and sprinkle more sugar on the other side. You can put the lid on again at this point to make sure the sugar melts. When it is all melted, serve.  Who says a hot breakfast has to be oatmeal or eggs?

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