I grew up in Miami. I speak broken Spanish. I am a huge fan of Cuban food and Cuban music. I know the authentic Calle Ocho flavor. I love maduros.
Maduros are fried plantains. This is a traditional side dish in many Latin and Hispanic kitchens. It is made from fresh plantains. I give you an adaptation of the classic recipe below. If you use the right cooking method and the right kitchen appliance, the dish will puree without fibers. It will be safe for the swallow.
Apologies to the abuela, the Spanish grandmother – I use frozen plantains. I slow bake. The cooking technique delivers intensified flavor. It is easy for the average cook to buy frozen plantains in the international foods section of the freezer. They come in bags. I have used them. They are an excellent product.
If you have a swallowing disorder and you have nostalgia for the classic comfort food, you won’t mind that I tweaked the dish. Besides, this is easier. Ripe plantains are not always available in the market and you have to wait until they ripen, which may take days. This is a healthier version than a fry in fat. Plus, the downside is, when you fry in fat, you have to get rid of the cooking fat.
I follow the advice of the great chef Julia Childs and adapt to circumstance. As I say in all the dishes in the global cuisine series, it is better to have a tweaked version of the dish than not to have the dish at all. I have consulted with various speech language pathologists and dietitians, and they agree.
To our non-Hispanic readers who want to taste the great dish, let us clear up any confusion at the beginning. A plantain is not a banana. Do not substitute.
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: Forty minutes Level: Easy
- 2 cups frozen plantains
- Cooking spray, coconut oil
- Water, milk or non-dairy milk, or juice for the puree
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare a sheet pan with a silicone liner or parchment paper.
Spread the maduros in a single layer.
Spray generously with the coconut cooking spray.
Alternatively, in a bowl, toss the maduros with 2 tbsp. coconut oil then place in a single layer on the silpat liner or parchment paper. This is to prevent the maduros from sticking.
Bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes until fork-tender. Do not burn, and do not over-caramelize the plantain. While caramelization may be desirable for flavor when eating this comfort food, it does not produce a smooth and creamy puree but creates particles in the finished product. You are baking slowly to develop the flavor rather than getting the flavor through the caramelization.
When fork-tender, the maduros are done. Remove from oven and place on a plate. Allow them to cool.
For the Puree
Put the maduros in the bowl of a food processor or the pitcher of a blender and blend with a few tablespoons of cashew milk, dairy milk or even fruit juice, whatever your choice. Mango? Guava? Put the puree through a mesh sieve with a silicone spatula to remove any fiber. You can also use a food mill. The puree should be smooth for the swallow with no fibers. If you have one of the high-speed commercial blenders, the Vitamix, the NutriNinja, the NutriBullet Rx or the Wolfgang Puck commercial blender, place the cooked and cooled maduros in the pitcher and blend. This will create a smooth puree with no fibers. The maduros may be served warm or at room temperature.
Once the puree is completely smooth, it should be the correct thickness, as the plantain has a thick texture. If it is too thick, add more juice or milk. I think water is fine to thin the dish, but use whatever liquid you like. If you need to thicken to the required thickness, or to stabilize the food into the puree form, use either the powder form or the gel form of xanthum gum thickeners. Use one packet of gel or one scoop of powder of ThickenUp Clear.
Muy Sabroso! Swirl Away! Andale!
Featured photo credit: yoliboricia via Pixabay, cc