Beware the plantains

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I love plantains. They’re basically big starchy bananas, and so easy to cook. All you have to do is wait for the skin to get nice and black, really black, then slice them up and fry them in butter.  The best part is if you happen to find them already ripe in the store, they’re often super cheap. How could I resist?

Trouble is, the idea of just cooking plantains by themselves seemed lonely.  They needed some black beans.  And beans mean cooking up a pot of rice. And beans and rice need something to be sides to. Like maybe ropa vieja, a Cuban stew with shredded beef. This particular combination came to mind because it’s very close to replicating a meal I had at a local home-style Cuban restaurant, Gustazo Cafe. A nice little place, and eating there has given me some idea of what to aim for when cooking my own home-style.

Anyway, next thing I know, I’m cooking black beans, dicing up an onion and a green pepper and a red pepper, smashing some garlic, and frying it all up. Not to mention, browning some beef, braising it, tearing it apart, and slicing up an onion and some celery and a green pepper and a red pepper, mincing some garlic, and stewing it all together. All the flavors mingle while the rice cooker bubbles. When the rice pops, add a fistful of cilantro to the beans, a cup of peas to the stew, and — oh yeah — peel a plantain and fry it.

Because, you know, it’s all about the plantains.