As fledgling adults flying our parents’ coop, it’s about time we learn how to make something else besides cereal and ramen. In celebration of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, I thought I would introduce a new segment that is all about food.
The following recipe is one I learned from my Cuban grandmother. Plataños maduros are a variation of plantain that is fried when ripened and served as a side dish.
Many traditional Cuban dishes use specifically white rice and black beans as a side, but I like to add a splash of a mojo (the “j” is pronounced as an “h” here) sauce to give it a zesty, citrus flavor. Usually you can buy a bottle of this from the grocery store, but I also like making my own sauce.
For the mojo sauce, you will need:
2 tbsp minced garlic
¼ cup olive oil
⅓ cup lime juice
⅓ cup orange juice
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
To make the sauce, all you have to do is mix the ingredients together. This should yield about a whole cup of mojo sauce for you to flavor the rice and beans.
For the rice, you will need:
1 cup of white rice
2 cups of water
½ cup of mojo sauce
Add water to a pot and put it on high heat. When the water reaches a boil, add the rice and the mojo sauce. Stir the rice occasionally to prevent the grains from sticking together. The rice should soak up all the water by the time it’s done cooking.
While your rice is cooking, you can get a can of black beans and add them to a separate pot. This step is also easy, as all you need to do is add the other half cup of mojo sauce to the beans and then put them on medium heat. By the time your rice is done, your beans should be, too. Feel free to mix the two together, because one is not complete without the other. This should yield about two servings.
Now for my favorite part. To make the plataños maduros, you will need:
One extremely ripe plantain. It should look blackened and almost mushy to the touch.
Olive or vegetable oil. You will need enough to cover the bottom of a frying pan.
On a cutting board, slice off the ends of the plantain then run your knife along the inner arch of the plantain, but only deep enough to cut through the peel. Then, remove the peel from the plantain. If possible, compost your food scraps. Now cut the fruit of the plantain in diagonal slices about ¾ of an inch thick.
Place the oil on medium heat in a frying pan. You will know when the oil is ready if you place a slice in the pan and it starts to sizzle. Add your slices to the pan and cook them on each side until they are a dark, golden brown. Remove them from the pan with a spatula and onto a plate.
Now you’re ready to serve your plataños maduros with your rice and beans. The sweetness of the plantains compliments the saltiness of the rice and beans quite nicely. My abuela also liked to cut up an avocado and add a little bit of salt and pepper when eating her plantains.
I also highly recommend playing Buena Vista Social Club while preparing this meal, as it makes it more fun to be in the kitchen.
If you have a fun and delicious recipe you would like to share, then email the lifestyle editor, Gabby Rente, at firstname.lastname@example.org.