Fried Plantains in Coconut Oil

by Maggie Battista on February 15, 2011

in All Recipes, Appetizers, Breakfast, Cheese, Vegetables

Fried Plantains - Eat Boutique

While it seemed unusual to me at the time, I grew up in a fairly typical immigrant home where two families lived in one house, only separated by a staircase. Downstairs in our part of the house, my Honduran mom tried very hard to be a typical American housewife, brushing aside some of her Latin flairs to fit in more with my Italian-American dad. Downstairs, we ate boring American food at breakfast – boring toast, boring eggs and boring piles of crispy bacon. Upstairs, was another story and another country completely.

In their part of the house, my mother’s brother’s family lived enough Latin for all of us. (Thank goodness!) My uncle is also Honduran and his wife, my aunt, is Colombian. They rarely ate boring American food. And we regularly skipped upstairs to delight in their weekend cuisine.

Fried Plantains - Eat Boutique

Most of the children in the family, especially my sister, protected their stash of bacon on weekend mornings, because crispy bacon could mysteriously vanish from a child’s plate in our house. I liked bacon and love it today, but I totally favored fried plantains way more than pig. Pig is wonderful – cured, delicious and salty – but in my mind at the time, pig was very American. I much preferred to fight over the very exotic fried plantain coins.

Prized like gold, and with the same warm hue to match when fried just right (though I prefer them a touch over done), plantains were typically served when we were all a bit more relaxed. The process of cutting, frying, and appropriately divvying them up among all the kids was a habit best performed after several cups of strong coffee, lots of Spanish banter, and maybe, if we had the time to hit the Italian market, a big ball of whole milk mozzarella cheese. (I still feel pretty strongly that the Italian side of my family encouraged the use of mozzarella because it just doesn’t exist in Honduras, but my Latin family cooked with it like it had been part of our life for generations.)

Fried Plantains - Eat BoutiqueFried Plantains - Eat Boutique

When the mozzarella hit the table, we knew it was one of THOSE weekend days, the kind that would involve everything: black beans, orange rice, eggs over easy, fried plantains and a few chunks of our favorite Italian cheese. If we didn’t have the time to get the mozzarella, then a sprinkle of sharp Parmesan would do the trick well. Either way, plantains in the morning always meant we’d have far more relaxed parents and an amazing weekend.

Some things have changed and others, not so much.

Plantains - Eat Boutique

For example, plantains are actually naughty carbohydrates, food not seen as particularly helpful to a healthy diet, when they really have far less sugar than bananas. Plantains are also now available all toasted up in easy to rip open bags, when cooking isn’t in the cards. And my sister’s a vegetarian now, so she can’t be the one stealing the bacon from my plate these days. (I’m talking to YOU, husband.)

Still, when my birthday weekend rolled around and I wanted to fuel my weekend, I made plantains. My mom was visiting this time around. We all woke up early, made some strong coffee and I got to frying the plantains. Sure, there was some teasing for my tendency to STILL hoard the plantains, but it was an amazing weekend.

Here’s my easy recipe for your next great weekend. Have you ever made plantains? Have you ever tasted them? I’d love to hear how you enjoy this tropical treat. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!

Fried Plantains - Eat Boutique

Fried Plantains

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 ripe plantains (yellow with a few black spots, but not green)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Peel your plantain carefully. I typically take a small knife and slice from one end to the other, not letting the knife’s tip dip past the skin and pierce the plantain. If I’m clumsy and haven’t yet had my coffee, it might slip in just a touch, but don’t cut the plantain too deeply. After that first cut from end to end, carefully peel off the skin. Slice the plantain into 1/4 inch thick coins, at an angle.

2. Bring a frying pan up to medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. You’re more than welcome to use any oil you prefer, but that coconut oil just meshes beautifully with this tropical treat.

3. Gently place the plantain coins into the well-heated oil. The oil should sizzle when the plantain hits it. Place about half of the coins (half of 1 plantain) into the pan and cook them 3-4 minutes per side, flipping with the tines of a fork.

4. Remove the plantains from the pan once they’re cooked to your desired color. Some prefer a lighter touch, where the color remains vibrant and yellow. I prefer to cook them a bit longer, and bring on a lot of dark color, because that dark color forms a nice crispy texture around the edges. Place cooked plantain coins onto a plate covered with paper towels.

5. Once all the plantain coins are fried and ample oil has been pulled from them, place on a serving platter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (or salt, if you’re not using cheese). If you’re feeling super adventures, cut up some 1″ cubes of mozzarella cheese and put them on top of the plantains. Serve and enjoy.

Fried Plantains - Eat Boutique

Maggie Battista

Founder at Eat Boutique
Maggie, is the founder of Eat Boutique. She started Eat Boutique as a blog in 2007, and sold out of her first gift box of small batch independent food in 2009. Maggie continues to offer unique and delicious handmade food in tasting subscriptions and seasonal gift boxes for food fans and home cooks. Maggie also hosts Eat Boutique Markets, where she spotlights cookbook authors and food makers. She’s written for Style Me Pretty, Food52, Time Out New York, Spencer Magazine, and writes a cocktail column for the popular wedding blog, Snippet & Ink. Maggie's also created retail experiences for the largest floral and event design company in New England. She regularly travels far distances to find the next great chef, farmer, food maker or host. You can follow her worldwide – and homemade – gastronomic adventures on Twitter at @mizmaggieb or @eatboutique. Maggie's writing her first-ever cookbook Food Gift Love to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in fall 2015.


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  • http://pharmafoodie.blogspot.com PharmaFoodie

    Oh my god, I love plantains… where do you find good ones in the Boston area? I see them at Whole Foods but often they’re hard as a rock and never ripen properly.

    I love them plain and fried as you do (no cheese), as well as steamed with cabbage and green beans, served as a side to braised oxtail. I’m Filipino, and I have no idea if plantains are traditional in Filipino cuisine, but that’s what my parents cooked while growing up. I’ve since discovered the joy of the Latin dish mofongo – I’m a big fan of adding pork fat to just about anything, but adding it to plaintains is heavenly.

  • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

    OMG, PharmaFoodie: You and I should cook some plantains together. Your dishes sound great. I believe plantains are used in most food cultures of tropical climates. I always considered them Latin b/c that’s what I know.

    As for where I get them, I’ve purchased them at Whole Foods and they do have trouble ripening there – what’s up with that? I often get mind at Market Basket, an affordable super market that now has so many foods from other countries. I always find Latin foods there. They’re not necessarily organic, but very good. That said, Market Basket does have a burgeoning organic produce section which I always shop first when I go there. Good luck finding them!

    Um, and SAY YES to PORK FAT. I may put that on a t-shirt someday.

    • http://pharmafoodie.blogspot.com PharmaFoodie

      Thanks for the tip on Market Basket, there’s one not far from me so I will definitely check it out – probably pretty soon since I now have a craving for plantains…

  • http://www.ladygouda.blogspot.com Shelby @ Lady Gouda

    HMM I LOVE fried plantains and order them whenever I see them on a menu. I like the thought of making them at home, but never knew “how” to buy plantains (as in, color/level of ripeness). This looks great! I’d like to try this with a nice cotija cheese, though the salty parm sounds great too.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Cotija cheese — oh yes. My grandmother (mi abuelita) used to bring a homemade cheese similar to cotija into the country when she visited each summer. They almost always took it it from her at the border. When it randomly got through, I remember thinking how smelly it was. I bet I’d love it now.

  • http://www.aplumbyanyothername.blogspot.com A Plum By Any Other Name

    As an Italian, I love the idea of dusting these lovely little nuggets with parmesan (parmigiano!) ;) I also love that these suckers can be cooked without a big vat of oil. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      I thought you’d like the more healthful option, less oil and good for you oil, at that! Isn’t coconut oil supposed to be very amazing for you?

  • http://www.misadventureswithandi.com andi_fisher

    I love, love, love plantains! My mom learned to cook them when we were living in Panama. One trick that they taught her that I don’t see you do is that once you slice the plantains you slip them into ice water before frying them, she was told so that they would fry better, so I follow the same practice…

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      I do not do this, but I will try it now. I don’t know why my family never did it – but be sure to know I’ll be passing along the tip. ;)

  • http://squirrelbread.wordpress.com/ heather

    We have tasted and made our own plantains. Several times in fact — keep going back for more! We’ve made thinner plantain coins like the ones you have shown above (though we topped with salt and cilantro), and also thick, smashed tostones topped with lime juice and cayenne. I’m intrigued by your addition of grated cheese; we’ll have to try that. Because I’m convinced that any which way, plantains are incredible eats.

    Oh, and my fiancée steals MY bacon, too.

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Glad to know I’m not the only one with an empty plate when it comes to bacon, though sad you’re also in my shoes. Are you sure you wanna marry the guy? :-)

      Seriously, I love tostones but really only learned about them way later in life, when I started studying Latin food. I think the whole smashing part and re-frying was something that my family just couldn’t be bothered with or something. Still I love ‘em. Thanks for the reminder: Must find good tostones recipe.

  • Julia

    Grill them whole and stuff them with cheese! “Verdes” and “maduros” are both perfect when cooked that way. I miss Ecuadorean food… :-)

  • Dg4787

    I grew up eating these to… and love them. I know their not that calorie friendly especially with frying them in oil and all… so I put them on a cookie sheet pan after spray lightly with light cooking spray… not a lot… just enough to keep from sticking. After Planteins were placed on cookie sheet I also sprayed the Planteins for 2 sec. I baked at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. My family didn’t notice a difference. They were delish. We typically ate Planteins with sour cream, when I was growing up. But there is nothing better then some black beans, white rice and Planteins. Yum’O!

  • perudelights

    Growing up in Nicaragua, I had my share of plantains, green -as tajadas- or ripe, fried and served with red beans and crema. What a homey and delicious dish. Nicaraguan cooks make a dessert called Maduro en Gloria, with fried ripe plantain, then baked with crema and queso fresco. OMG… so good…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6WTGUBFKE2355M2O47P4VT63VM Hannah

    OMG! PLANTAIN AND PLANTAIN CRISPS!!!
    My fave fry-able fruit.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

       Aren’t they delicious? Love them so much! xox

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcbomb John McComb

    toast and eggs might be boring, (well toast is for sure) but please don’t call bacon boring.

    I think I’m gonna cook up some plantains and bacon and wash it down with a fresh young coconut.

  • Frank Ferrin

    Please pay attention. If you want great plantains, you just have to warm them up (oven preferably) for a couple of minutes. GOYA is your very best friend

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