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Monday, January 28, 2013

Tostones: The Macho Banana

There were several Dominican staples my mom cooked regularly for our family as I was growing up. One of my favorite dishes is captured in the glorious flavors of Pollo Guisao. I shared my crock pot version of that recipe last year. Today, I'd like to share with you my version of tostones. 


What are tostones, you ask? In a nutshell, they are twice-fried plantains. Think of plantains as the macho-man version of a banana -- you know...huskier, thicker-skinned, probably lifts weights. They are starchier and denser than a banana, and in their green, unripe form, they lend themselves well to savory dishes. What I love about plantains is that they are incredibly versatile, regardless of their stage of ripeness. If they are green, make tostones. If they are yellow and ripe, prepare them like mashed potatoes and top with caramelized onions and a fried egg. If they are over-ripe and black, fry them in butter with brown sugar, clove, and cinnamon. 

But today, we're talkin' tostones. I am of the opinion that tostones are best served with some sort of saucy, stewed meat. They bring texture and an underlying sweetness to the party. I'd recommend pairing tostones with pollo guisao or mole. Click the links below to check out my easy crock pot versions of both:

So....let's get started.
Ingredients
  • Green Plantains (approximately 1 per person)
  • Coconut oil
  • Garlic cloves, smashed (5-6)
  • Salt
  • Parsley
Just so we're all clear, THESE are plantains. 

Peel and slice your plantains into approximately one inch thick slices. 


Smash your garlic to break open the cloves while keeping them in whole pieces. 



Add your smashed garlic to your saute pan with enough coconut oil to come up about quarter of an inch in your pan, and turn the heat on to medium. Once coconut oil melts completely, turn garlic occasionally until it is evenly browned, about 5-7 minutes.


Remove the garlic from the pan and discard (it will be too bitter to eat, but never fear, because now your oil is infused with garlic). Add your plantain slices to the oil in batches and fry for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side. Take your time and do not crowd the pan.


Once your plantains are done with the first fry, you'll need to bust out your tostonera. Don't have one? That's ok...I made tostones for years without one. All you need are two flat surfaces to flatten your tostones. You could use a cutting board, or the bottom of a plate or cup. Let your imagination go crazy.


One by one, flatten your plantains.


Add your flatten plantains back to the oil in batches and fry for a second time, still over medium heat, for an additional 1 minute per side.


Transfer the tostones to paper towels and salt immediately.


Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro and enjoy with a delicious stewed or braised (or crock potted!) meat.



Cheers!!

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