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.