Saturday, January 2, 2010

Oven-Fried Plantains

We spent the holidays in New York; the last time we were there was more than a year ago. I am always amazed that even in below-freezing weather there seems to be the same number of people on the streets as during warm, balmy summer days. The same number of people on Time Square, the same number of street-food vendors, the same number of people patronizing those vendors, the same number of people in the subways, in theaters, shopping. This is one of the things that defines a visit to the city for me: the hustle and bustle of the masses, each person with their own agenda, each a part of the rhythm of the city. That, and all the good food!

New York is definitely a food lover's paradise, with its seemingly endless number of restaurants, fruit stands and street vendors. And I always make sure to get my fill of Trinidadian food. (Queens, New York has the largest population of Trinidadians outside of the Caribbean, and therefore a sizable selection of such restaurants.) Besides the cooked stuff, I also like to take a few vegetables back home. This time: bhodi (a type of long string beans,) cassava (yucca,) and plantains.

Plantains are one of my all time favorite foods. I grew up eating it a lot of it. Usually, it was boiled and served as a base for meats and vegetables, or fried and eaten with roti (Indian flatbread.) The fried version is my favorite- not hard to imagine since everything fried seems to taste so damn good. It's not very common that you see plantains in Minneapolis grocery stores - no surprise there either - although I have found it on occasion. And I know of only one restaurant that has it on the menu: Victor's 1959 Cafe, a Cuban restaurant. Tostones is their fried green plantains but what I would specifically make a reservation for their platanos maduros - fried sweet plantains. Crispy on the edges and soft, chewy, and sweet on the inside. I'll have two orders, please.

Three days after we returned home, I set out trying to find a way to fry my plantains. Only, I didn't want to fry them; plantains are starchy so they can absorb a good amount of oil, a fact a wanted to get around. The obvious choice was to cook them in the oven. To be honest, I half expected that they would turn out rubbery and dried out. But it worked! I got almost the same results: crispy around the edges, and totally cooked through in the center. Not only does this method require less oil, it takes less time. Here's what I did, using four (4) ripe plantains:

1. Set oven to 450 degrees F. Peel and discard the plantain skin.
2. Cut each plantain in three equal pieces, cross-sectionally, then cut each cross-section into three equal slices, length-wise.
3. Lightly brush with vegetable oil* on each side, place evenly spaced on a baking sheet, and bake in a 450 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes on each side.
* Three tablespoons of oil was more than enough for four average size plantains.

Happy New Year!


Chow and Chatter said...

very cool never baked them before, oh love NYC oh next time i go will ask you for trips for good eats lol

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

Plantains are so good and these oven prepared variety are so healthy!

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

I love fried plantains so thanks for sharing this healthier version!

Glad you enjoyed your time in NYC. As someone who deals with the hustle and bustle here everyday, sometimes we need to be reminded what a great city it really is - even with all the gridlock ;)

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I LOVE plantains. Fortunately, I live in Texas, and there are a lot of Latin groceries around, filled with green and ripe plantains. I love to fry them - I fry them in as little oil as possible though, just enough to coat the pan. (I've even posted them on my blog!) This looks like a great alternative. Now you have me hungry for plantains!

Gera @ Sweets Foods Blog said...

It is always welcome a healthy alternative to frying and love this type of plantains version.



Anonymous said...

Great idea to oven fry them, so much healthier and super delicious!

Natasha said...

Chow & Chatter,
Sure, I'd be happy to suggest some good places to eat for your next NYC trip.

CCR, Gera, 5StarFoodie,
Glad you liked this version. Plantains are full of potassium and vitamins A and C but frying them adds excess and unnecessary fat.

My husband was born in NY and lived there most of his life, and he feels the same way you do. He said the reason I like it is because I don't have to deal with the crowds everyday. Lol.

You're lucky. Maybe it's a good thing I can't get plantains often here because I would eat so much and that would not be good. Lol.

Tristan said...

I won't lie - I haven't had fried plantains since I was 15 years old and ten years later I still crave it. Great to see this healthier way to make them =)

Marina said...

nice idea...

TeenieCakes said...

What a great idea! I'm with you about frying...and if they turn out that good in the oven, than why not? I love plantains...gonna have to try this. Thx for sharing!

Sophie said...

Holidays spent in New York: Lucky you!!

These fried plantins in the oven sound so good right now!!!


Natasha said...

Tristan, Marina, TeenieCakes, Sophie,
Glad you are receptive to the idea. If you try the recipe, you'll see that it takes really no time to prepare.

Shelly Borrell said...

I will have to give this a try!!! Thanks.

Shannon said...

My puerto rican guy would love these! And this would be so much healthier too! Thanks!

I love your posts...


beachgirl25 said...

I love your recipies, they are so fun and easy to cook. I especially love your zucini cupcakes! Thanks so much for making eathing healthy fun and delicous:)

Natasha said...

Shelly Borrell, Shannon, Beachgirl25,
Thank you for you kind thoughts.

Michele P. said...

wow, I will definitely need to try this out! Baking is definitely healthier... we love these since hubby is from Central America, and I usually buy them already fried when we are in RI or MA visiting friends. Now I can buy from the fruit stores down there and try baking them!