Maduros (Sautéed Sweet Plantains)

Lest you think I have ceased whining about the weather, I woke up Thursday to a good 4 inches of snow outside.  We have significantly passed the highest annual snowfall, and the weather people need something else to hyperventilate about.  The meteorological phenomenon that is now causing breathlessness is the highly variable spring weather: hail, snow and sunshine all in one day.  If they would leave out the snow, I’d be ok with it.

As I have noted before, I am very fond of plantains.  They are a cousin of the banana; there is no formal botanical distinction between bananas and plantains. Plantains tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than “dessert bananas”. As the plantain ripens, it becomes sweeter and its color changes from green to yellow to black. Green plantains are firm and starchy and resemble potatoes in flavor. Yellow plantains are softer and starchy but sweet. Extremely ripe plantains have a softer, deep yellow pulp that is much sweeter than the earlier stages of ripeness.

Plantains are a common side dish in tropical regions of the world, from Latin America through Africa and South Asia. A side of plantains, fried and sometimes mashed as well, often accompanies grilled meats or stews.  I have had difficulty finding riper plantains in local groceries, meaning that while the plantains are good in stews or other long-cooked dishes, they aren’t the side dish I love.  But I have discovered that with patience, the too green plantains will ripen on the kitchen counter, especially if you put them on top of a bowl of apples to take advantage of the ripening gases that apples exude.  These sautéed plantains are incredibly easy to make.

Maduros (Sautéed Sweet Plantains)

4 cups soft black or nearly black plantains, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick slices
3 Tablespoons  sugar
¼ teaspoon  salt
1½ Tablespoons  butter

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add plantains in one layer; sauté 5 minutes or until browned and tender, turning over once.  You may have to cook these in two batches.  Be careful not to let them get too dark – some of mine got a little too brown and were slightly bitter.  This makes 6 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.


The Maduros are on a plate with the chicken I made a few days ago.  I reheated the chicken thighs to go with the plantains.

Variation: You can make non-sweetened plantains, also a very traditional side dish, by using olive oil instead of the butter and eliminating the sugar. Sprinkle the cooked plantains with salt.

Variation 2: You can also cut the plantains in half lengthwise and then cut each half into 4-5 pieces instead of cutting them into slices.  This is how I usually see plantains served as a side dish in Latin American restaurants.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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