Posts Tagged 'plantain'

Caribbean Pork and Plantain Stew

This was my Christmas Eve dinner – it has a nice tropical taste to offset the frigid outdoor temperatures we are experiencing.  This stew also packs quite a bit of heat – I mean sinus-clearing, eye-watering heat, which was fine with me tonight. It really warmed me up. But if you want less of a punch, reduce the amount of pepper. It was also very quick to make, so that I could finish baking cookies and wrapping presents, since I am rather behind on my holiday tasks (at least I got the cards out before Christmas this year.)

The  recipe for this dish came from Cooking Light. It was originally a bit high in fat for me, since, as usual, I want to freeze the leftovers and take them for lunch.  One of my principles for low fat cooking is to eliminate the oil, especially if all it is doing is being used to brown onions or other ingredients (I steam fry them instead).  But in this case, I thought that the peanut oil probably was going to add to the complexity of flavors in the stew, so I just reduced the amount.

This is one of those dishes that comes together fast, so I prepared all the ingredients in advance in order to be able to add them in rapid sequence:

That’s the cut up pork and plantains, the green onion sliced, the ginger and peppers in the bowl, and the liquids combined in the measuring cup.

In this stew, the plantains take the place of a starch like potatoes.  I didn’t serve it over rice. Rather, I sopped up the juices with some slightly sweet rolls.

Caribbean Pork and Plantain Stew

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of all fat and membrane
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
3/4 cup sliced green onions
2 Tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon  Szechuan or pink peppercorns, crushed (I was out of Szechuan pepper so I used 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper)
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced (I used jalapeno)
3 plantains, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1-inch-thick pieces (about 3 cups) My plantains were yellow with brown spots, not fully ripe and black.
1 cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rum
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Cut pork into 2 x 1/4-inch-wide strips. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger, peppercorns, and chile; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add pork; stir-fry 1 minute. Add plantains; stir-fry 30 seconds. Stir in broth, soy sauce, rum, and sugar; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, or until plantains soften.

Combine water and cornstarch, stirring well with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pork mixture, stirring well; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until somewhat thick, stirring constantly.  This makes 6 tummy-warming servings at about 7 grams of fat/serving.

HINT: Plantains, unlike bananas, are rather difficult to peel unless they are dead ripe and black. To peel them, I cut off the ends, and then run the tip of a sharp knife down the side twice, about an inch apart. Pull this thin strip off. You should now be able to use your fingers to lift the remaining skin off the plantain.


Roasted Yams and Plantains

When I saw this recipe, I didn’t look very closely at it. Plantains, yams, what could be bad. I finally had three very ripe plantains – the only way I can get ripe plantains is by buying them when they are yellow and letting them turn black on the back of my kitchen counter. Then I looked more closely at the recipe, from Cooking Light, and realized that it was a pureed dish with dates and nuts sprinkled on top. It was sort of a Thanksgiving side dish, on the sweet side – but I was more interested in something more hearty – or maybe more chewy. So I fiddled around and came up with what is essentially a roasted vegetable dish that could still be used as a side dish. Plantains roast quite well so I may experiment with them some more in the future.

Roasted Yams and Plantains

Cooking Spray
2  pounds of sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 very ripe plantain peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut across in ½ inch slices
1/3  cup packed brown sugar
1/4  cup fat-free milk
1/4  cup non-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds,

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Mix  sugar, milk, sour cream, and allspice in a medium bow; beat 2 minutes at the high speed of a mixer until smooth. Mix in dates. Set aside  Put yams and plantains in prepared baking pan. Spray lightly with cooking spray and toss.  Bake for one hour or until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven. Pour milk mix over  yams. Toss well. Sprinkle almonds evenly over top.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes. This makes 8 servings at about 3 grams of fat/serving.

yam platain bake

Variation: This was pretty sweet. You could probably use less sugar.

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.

Cuban Pork and Plantain Stew

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.


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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