Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I grew up thinking that plantains were the Spanish word for bananas. I only saw them in the I-don't-know-what-that-is section of Market Basket, with several different types of things that weren't potatoes but grew in the ground, the identifiable coconuts and aptly named ugly fruit. They looked like completely under-ripened bananas or totally rotten bananas. I steered clear, knowing that neither would satisfy my mother's demand for bananas that did not have any brown spots, but still had a hint of green on the ribs.

I am grateful that that section of the store no longer frightens me; that manioc, yucca, cassava and plantains are items I get excited to cook with. (I still have yet go near the ugly fruit.)

Plantains have become a staple. They are the cheapest starch and they are generous enough to turn into dessert if you forget about them in the fruit basket. I love them fried as tostones, and two nights ago, I had some boiled in an El Salvadorian soup, at La Casita, that made me wish I had heard of plantains in soup sooner.

Sweet plantains are an amazing treat. I have only had them baked or fried... the frozen Goya version is actually really great. Tonight I had a lone plantain that I found buried under the fruit bowl-turned-menu/mail bin and decided to cook it up. I modified this recipe for Bananas St-Jacques and was pleasantly surprised by the creamy, warm and soft result.

1 plantain sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp brown sugar
pinch salt
pinch mace
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 can of coconut milk

Everything goes into a pot and is boiled for 10 minutes, then simmered for 20. I threw a splash of vanilla extract in right before serving.

The finished product looked nothing like the photo on the website. It might have been because I turned down the heat when I noticed the plantains sticking to the bottom of the pot. It did't look "good" but it tasted wonderful. I will make these again and again.

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