Plátanos Maduros (Sweet Fried Plantains)

>> Sunday, July 8, 2012


My first mother-in-law was a Mexican immigrant. After I married her son, we moved into Mama Nona's house to save money to buy our own house.

I was twenty years old, and I’d lived on a farm in Michigan for most of my life. Growing up, the only Latinos I’d ever seen were the migrant workers who whistled at us from the back of a flatbed truck when they rode down our dirt road. When I moved into Mama Nona’s home in Waukegan Illinois, I was totally immersed in Mexican culture.

Mama Nona was born in Mexico in the 1920s. For the last thirty years she had lived in a rotting old house at the edge of a ravine that gangsters called “Death Valley”. Ray was the only one of her twelve children who was born in the United States.

Because Ray was the youngest, I was closest to his high school-age nieces and nephews. Work was strictly regulated between men and women, and Ramona, Maribel, Rosie, and Marijenia  squeezed into Mama Nona's steaming kitchen to cook with their mothers. One of the first recipes I learned was plátanos maduros, Ray's favorite dessert dish or side dish. Even though women were supposed to do all the cooking, Ray and I competed to see who could make the best plate of fried plantains.

At a party last weekend, a friend was reminiscing about the wonderful mofongo he ate in Puerto Rico. Mofongo is a dish made with unripe plaintains and has a consistency and use similar to mashed potatoes. Talking about mofongo led me to a craving for plátanos maduros (which are made throughout the Caribbean and Latin America), so I made them for breakfast one day this week. They were as good as I remembered.

If you don't have cholesterol problems, I would highly recommend using Latino crema instead of sour cream. Crema has the consistency of yogurt and is much less sour and much more creamy. It's amazing stuff but probably not as good for you.

Plátanos Maduros

 Ingredients

 4 large ripe plantains (skins should be mostly black mottled with dark yellow; fruit should be slightly soft)
1/2 cup Canola or Corn oil
1 cup crema or sour cream at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Directions

Peel the plantains. I find it easiest to cut a line in the tough skin from top to bottom, and peel from there; plantains don't peel as easily as bananas. Cut the plantains into 1/2" slices.

Heat a frying pan on medium heat and then add oil. When the oil is hot, fry the plantain slices on each side until golden brown and tender, turning as needed. Don't crowd the plantains in the pan; cook in batches if they all don't fit. Drain the slices on paper towels.

Place plantains on a warmed plate and drizzle with crema or sour cream. Sprinkle with sugar (and cinnamon, if desired). Serve immediately. A lot of Latinos like it as a side dish without crema or sugar, just a squirt of lime or a bit of salt. I'm going to try drizzling them with honey next time.

Serves 2-4.

Mama Nona in Mexico, 1940s
You can read more about my experiences living in a Mexican household in Scenes from a Mexican Kitchen and Life and Times of a Little Gringa.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  July 8, 2012 at 5:20 PM  

I loved these!!

Angela Williams Duea July 8, 2012 at 5:58 PM  

Mmmm, me too!

Hooray, I fixed my comments code, finally.

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