Frugal Friday: Carmelized Plantains

Let me tell you something about my stepmother: She is one of the best cooks I know. And whenever you ask her how she makes something, she makes it sound like she just whipped it up and anyone could do it.

Not true. I am pretty sure she is just being modest because I have tried, and repeatedly failed, to replicate some of her delicious dishes. In fact, this carmelized plantain recipe is one that I completely botched the first time I made it. When you finish reading this recipe, and see how simple it is, you’re going to seriously doubt my culinary abilities, trust me.

Ok, so lets talk plantains, shall we? If you are a little fuzzy on the exact description, they look like this:Indiginous to southeast Asia, plantains have become a staple in many tropical cultures. Unripe, green plantains are starchy and used in cooking much like a potato.  For this recipe, carmelized plantains, you want to use the blackest plantains you can find — they literally cannot be too ripe.

First, you’ll gather your plantains. You’ll need about one per person. Peel them, cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them in thirds, so you have approximately 2″ long nuggets of deep yellow goodness.

Arrange the cut plantains on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 20-40 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, check every 5 minutes. The plantains should be soft and slightly browned and bubbly, but not hardened and dull brown (I told you I destroyed these the first time I made them!). They’ll come out looking like this:

See that slight sheen? That’s what natural-sugar carmelization glaze looks like. So.Freaking.Good.

 Once you try them, you’ll be hooked — like potato chips, you can’t eat just one. Unlike potato chips, they have absolutely no additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. One ingredient only, full of potassium and fiber. Although you can (and I sure did) sprinkle them with turbinado sugar or honey when you’re done.   I’ve eaten these right out of the refrigerator the next day, but for optimal caramelized sweetness, eat them warm from the oven.
Oh, and why did this recipe make the “Frugal Friday” designation?  They’re a little exotic and different — and 3 for $1 at my local discount grocery store!  I brought these carmelized plantains, and made a dish that everyone loved for only $3.33!  These are awesome as a “dish to pass” to bring to holiday gatherings, or even as a  side dish for weeknight dinners.
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  1. Yum! My parents are from Panama and this was always a Sunday dish! The difference is we do not bake them but fry them in a little bit of cooking oil until golden brown. This is one food that never has leftovers!

    • Fried plantains are really amazing, too! You’re right — no leftovers here — they’re usually snapped right up!