Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A New Kind of Thank You

Not too long ago, we started delivering our fresh produce to a very nice customer named Adria. She works downtown Cincinnati, has a rather large family, and has discovered that it's much easier for us to deliver her produce than for her to stop at the grocery store on her way home from work.
The first time Adria ordered, she specified, among her other items, that she would like 5 "very green" plantains. If you know anything about plantains, they are members of the banana family, but more starchy and low in sugar. They need to be cooked, usually fried or baked, rather than eaten raw. Like bananas, they darken as they ripen so the flavor changes from starchy like a potato to sweeter as the plantain ripens.
The second time Adria ordered, she also wanted plantains "if very green only." Of course, at Daisy Mae's, we aim to please. On this particular day, the plantains we had in stock had started to darken so I wrote a note to Adria explaining that we did not include the plantains and that they would be deducted from her invoice. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect...Would this new customer think, "I thought I could order whatever I wanted?" Or would she understand that plantains, like bananas, are all about personal preferences and timing?
I got my answer in the form of a lovely email message: "I wanted to thank you for all the veggies with my Cuban husband's recipe for fried plantains. The reason I need all those very green ones. :)" Below her message was the Fried Plantain recipe that her husband had taken the time to type. Adria's message ended with "I hope you try and enjoy it. Feel free to share, print, or post."
So here you go...from Adria and her husband: The thanks that keeps on giving...Try Fried Plantains the true Cuban way, and think of thanking a friend next time by sharing your favorite recipe.

Fried Green Plantains (Tostones)

In a frying pan (I use a chicken fryer), heat vegetable oil (you can use olive oil or even water for this step but the taste will vary) to about 350 degrees.  If you do use water, make sure to get to the same frying temperature and maintain the water level as it will evaporate QUICKLY. You should have about half an inch to an inch of oil in pan.  A deep fryer may be used for this as well but you really need to watch them.

Take a Green Plantain make two cuts down the inside two curved seams, deep enough to pierce the skin but not deep enough to cut too deeply into the plantain.

Cut off the two ends of the plantain to square them off. 

Place your thumb into the cut seam you have made and peel back the peel that you have cut.  It is pretty important to get as much of the peel off the fruit as possible.  Once you get good at it, you should not have any peel at all.  Once the first part has been taken off remove the rest of the peel.

Once the plantain has been peeled, cut the plantain along the thickness creating large marshmallow-sized pieces about an inch to an inch and a half wide.  I usually get about 6-8  pieces per plantain depending on the size. 

Place plantains about an inch apart face down in the oil.  You will notice them begin to turn from beige to a nice yellow color.  When they have turned golden, flip them over and cook the other side.  When they are a uniform color, remove from the oil and set on the prepared plate to drain a bit and refill oil as needed.   The next step will allow the oil to return to temperature.

Now is the smashing part.  You will need two large wooden spoons, cutting boards, paper grocery bags or newspaper.  Place a cut, fried cube face down on one of the surfaces, cover with the other and with the base of the palm of your hand, uniformly press down on the plantain to flatten it.  It will resist at first. You only need to press down far enough to have the plantain collapse; we are not making chips.  The plantain will be round and about a quarter to a third inch thick.  Once all of the plantains have been flattened, return them to the oil .  Cook for about a minute on both sides, flipping once until they are uniformly crispy on the outside, bright yellow, and beginning to brown a bit.  Do not let them brown or darken too much as they will sweeten up and become rather yucky.

Remove from oil and let drain and cool for about 2 minutes. 

Sprinkle with Kosher or Garlic Salt and enjoy.

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