Being of Italian descent, this post sure feels like it comes out of left field for me. Previous thoughts : Plantains…we don’t eat them. We just know that they look like bananas but cannot be eaten as such. We also know that many people from different backgrounds buy them but …”What do they do with them?”, I’d wonder. My father is surely nodding his head in agreement as he reads this. He sticks to what he knows. Although I assure you, you don’t need to be adventurous with food to enjoy this dish.
I have just returned from a trip to Antigua where I had a real “Ah-ha!” moment one evening at a restaurant called “Bay House Bistro”. Along-side my order of chicken Saltinbocca, I had what I thought were mashed potatoes but when I took my first bite, I felt that although the flavours were spot on, the texture was slightly different. It was roughly mashed, deliciously thick, buttery and rich. Then I remembered that my order didn’t include potatoes, it was plantain purée. That was it. I felt I had to recreate this as soon as possible. The very next morning I was scouring the internet for the right recipe and I tell you no word of a lie, I have thought about the dish every day since. Plantains are available pretty much everywhere and I couldn’t wait to get home to Montreal to give it a try. So while obsessing, I learned a thing or two about plantains.
In summary: Plantains contain more starch but less sugar than regular bananas and should therefore be cooked before being eaten. They are approximately 220 calories each and are an excellent source of potassium and fibre. Plantains are a staple-food in Caribbean and Latin-American countries. They can be enjoyed in soups, fried like chips, sautéd, grilled, baked, mashed and more. For people from the Dominican Republic this dish is called Mangu and for Equadorians, “Tigrillo” (…which means: small tiger-cat. I don’t know why) and is most often eaten for breakfast. I’ve seen a pic online of mound of mashed plantains with a gorgeous sunny-side up egg right on top. It looked amazing. *transfixed, imagining*
*Note: Some recipes call for ripe plantains (yellow) but those tend to be sweeter. For savoury dishes such as this one, they need to be green. A greenish plantain that is slightly ripening is ok too.
Mashed Green Plantains
I calculate 1 plantain per person so this recipe is for two servings.
Pictures and instructions follow
- 2 large green plantains
- 2 to 3 tbsp butter
- 1 cup of reserved water that the plantains were boiled in
- crumbled goat cheese (optional)
- Bring about 3 or 4 cups of salted water to a boil
- Peel the plantains and cut into segments about two inches long
- Place the plantains into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the plantain segments from the water and place into a shallow bowl.
- Reserve roughly 1 cup of cooking water. (you probably won’t use it all)
- Mash with a fork.
- Melt the butter in a pan on med-low and add the mashed plantains and coat with butter.
- Add some water a little at a time to the mixture, folding it in until a smoother consistency is achieved. The result should be like slightly lumpy mashed potatoes. Do not over work them or they will become gluey.
- (Optional) Add the crumbled cheese and cook for a few more minutes until the cheese melts.
- Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately
Kicking it up: You can add minced shallot and minced garlic to the mix.
Simply sauté 1/2 of a french shallot and 1 clove of garlic (both minced finely) in the butter , until softened before incorporating the mashed plantains.
Kicking it up… Possible additions