Okay, the cookie baking is over for a while. Platters went to the office and to my neighbor’s Christmas dinner. The remaining few are carefully closeted in the freezer, where their plaintive cries to be eaten are muffled. I’ll take them out gradually, one by one, as late night snacks.
Now it’s time to turn to hearty dishes to help warm the winter night. Yes, it’s still snowing. 63 inches and counting. I need something to warm the cockles of my heart, and this somewhat unusual dish does the trick. It has a little peppery heat to it. This is definitely something I will make again.
It began when I bought two plantains. I love the plantains that you get at some Latin American restaurants, sweet and gently fried. But apparently these are made from plantains that are soft and black. Not knowing much about plantains, I passed over the black ones thinking they were past their prime, and bought two large green plantains. When I began researching plantain recipes, it turned out that my sweet plantains were not to be, unless I was willing to wait weeks until they turned black. I’m not all that patient. I did let the one of the very green plantains turn yellow with black splotches. I found that the very green plantain was hard to peel, and remained rather hard after cooking (although longer cooking might have softened them). So this recipe calls for yellow plantains with brown spots, which will stay firm, but not too hard during cooking.
The original recipe for this used chicken breasts, which would make it about one gram lower in fat/serving. However, I thought the pork was a more traditional Cuban ingredient, and I have quite a bit of pork tenderloin to use up.
Cuban Pork and Plantain Stew
1 Tablespoon canola oil
3/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped plum tomato
1 cup dry sherry
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 -ounce) can low-salt beef broth
2 cups sliced (about ½ inch slices) plantains (about 3/4 pound)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pan over medium-high heat. Add pork, onion, and bell pepper; sauté for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions soften. Stir in tomato and next 8 ingredients (tomato through broth). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in plantains; cook 15 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with parsley if using. This makes 4 servings at 7 grams of fat/serving. I expect that this would be great over rice, and with Cuban black beans, but I have been eating it in a bowl like a hot soup. And it definitely warms the cockles of my heart.
Variation: If you like spicy food, this could take a bit more pepper, or you might even add a minced jalapeno pepper.