Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quick Fried Ripe Plantains (Maduros)

This is my new favorite side dish. If you've seen plantains and not know what to do with them this is a quick and easy and tasty introduction to bananas big starchy cousin. It's delicious with roasted meats and any Latin flavored meal or as a quick appetizer. When you fry up the very, very ripe plantains the sugars caramelize into the most amazing slightly crunchy outside complimented by the soft and sweet inside. The only difficult part of this dish is waiting for the plantains to turn completely black. This is when the plantain is at it's sweetest. I like to serve it with lots of fresh lime and salt and a habanero hot sauce, but sometimes will make a quick fruit ketchup. That recipe will be posted soon.

Serves 2 as a side dish, 4 for appetizers

2 ripe plantains, best if the skin is completely black, but wait until it has ripened to at least 1/2 black. It's not rotting, the starch is converting to sugar.
Vegetable oil, enough to cover the bottom of your wok or fry pan with 1-2 inches of oil, just about the thickness of your sliced plantain
Lime, cut into quarters

  1. With a sharp knife slice each end off the plantain. To remove the skin make shallow slices into the skin lengthwise down each plantain in 4 places. Carefully peel the skin off. This is easier the riper the fruit is.
  2. Slice plantains into 3/4 to 1 inch slices.
  3. Heat oil to 365 degree, I use my candy thermometer for this.
  4. Carefully slide slices into the oil and fry on one side for a few seconds. Keep peeking to see if they are browned. Turn over to brown the other side. This is a very quick fry, so don't walk away.
  5. Drain on brown paper, or just drain with slotted spoon and put on a plate. Don't drain on paper towels. I've made that mistake. They stick!
  6. Sprinkle with a coarse salt and pepper.
  7. Serve hot with lime for sprinkling and a good hot sauce.
  8. I like to serve it with my Papaya Ketchup, recipe coming soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Caramelized Onion Pie for @FeastUp Potluck Picnic!
If I wanted to get fancy then you could say this is my take on Tarte à l'oignon alsacienne that I learned from a Master Class with Chef Andre Soltner at The International Culinary Center in Manhattan. Chef Soltner said other chefs he knows send out a glass of champagne to a friend, but he likes to send out a slice of this pie. He believes, "If someone wants a glass of champagne, he can buy it. But an onion tart he cannot buy". Just as a heads up you really need to keep an eye on the onions as they caramelize, giving them a stir every few minutes or so. It does take a good 40 minutes or so, but the flavor is spectacular. This is a great dish to bring to a picnic and it holds well for a day or so, though it does taste best the day you make it.

3 good sized yellow onions, chopped
1 stick butter
1 or 2 ounces SCHALLER & WEBER BAUERNSCHINKEN (FARMERS HAM) smoky, don't use watery deli ham
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
4-6 slices of swiss cheese, thickly cut
pie dough, feel free to make your own, I always use storebought

Preheat oven to 400
Press pie dough into pie pan. Prick all over with a fork.
Bake til brown, about 15 minutes

While pie shell bakes saute onion with butter over medium high heat until lightly browned and all pieces are tender. Once you see some browning you might want to turn the heat down a bit, or if your brave just stay there stirring until you reach a nice golden color. Stir often!

Scoop cooked onions in a large bowl and let cool. Whisk egg and add to cream. Stir well and mix into coolish onion. Stir in minced ham. Stir in freshly grated nutmeg. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

Turn oven down to 350

Line pie shell with cheese slices. I find this layer of delicious melting cheese keeps the pie shell crisp. Pour on the egg, cream and onion mixture. Smooth down with a spatula.
Bake until set about 25 minutes.