When we travel, it can be a different story. In Puerto Rico, seemingly, no meal was complete without a slab of thick meat. Chunks of pork rind floated in the pots of black beans, and rice served only as a bed for stewed chicken. I watched Patrick feast on seafood and lechon asado (barbecued pork) while I munched on wilted green salads, rice and beans, and plantains.
Thank goodness for that ubiquitous plantain. In Puerto Rico, they are served in some form with almost every meal and demand is so high that they are imported from the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. The Puerto Ricans make good use of the fruit: we ate tostones, fried smashed semi-ripe plantains; mofongo, meat or cheese-stuffed mashed plantain cakes; plantain chips dried in the hot sun; and our favorite, amarillos.
Amarillos, known as platanos maduros in other Central American countries, are simply ripe plantain slices dropped into hot oil or butter. Once fried, the crust becomes dark and crispy and the interior flesh reminds me of honey-glazed bananas. But, while the traditional amarillo brings out the best in the plantain, the high fat content doesn't bring out the best in our bodies. By roasting the plantain slices in the oven, this recipe almost mimics the traditional amarillo but with little of the fat.
Oven Baked Amarillos
Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 people
2 ripe plantains (They should be soft to the touch, dark yellow-brown, with many black spots like the pictures above.)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Peel the plantains. They should be peachy-yellow, fleshy yet soft to the touch, and smell sweeter than a regular banana.
3. Slice plantains diagonally into thick slices.
4. Brush plantains with oil and, if you would like, with the honey or agave nectar. (I use honey or agave nectar if the plantain doesn't smell very sweet.)
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip plantains onto other side and bake for another 10 minutes.
6. The plantains should be golden and the edges should be crispy and dark. If they are not quite golden brown yet, bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.