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Tips for Picking Plantains

About.com : June 7, 2016
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Tips for Selecting Plantains

So we’re talking about plantains today and plantains can be a little daunting for people who haven’t worked with them before, but really there’s nothing to be afraid of. There’s different kinds of plantains, so I’m going to help you distinguish them. This is your green plantain and this plantain is what you want to use when you want a savory dish. The tostones, Cubans call them tostones, but some people in South America call them patacones. And these are always delicious fried. You could stuff them. When you make mariquitas or plantain chips, you would use this guy here. You can also boil them. You can do a whole bunch of stuff with them. [Inaudible 00:00:42], which is our version of mashed potatoes, is a great dish, because you can basically boil it or steam it just ’til it’s fork tender. Mash it up with some of the same cooking water would be great, add a little bit of olive oil and then you can add protein to it. A lot of times we make it with chicharones, which is like pork rinds. Again not super healthy for light Latin cuisine, but you might want to try it one day when you’re doing a special occasion. But you can add chopped chicken breast and onions and different kinds of veggies to it and it’s a great base. This is a great carb and it’s different from a potato, because it has Vitamin A and it has potassium so it’s going to give you a little bit of nutritional boost there. Then this is kind of the middle ground. This is a semi-ripe. We call it pintones. Pinton means like spotted. So this is a little sweeter than the green one. This is also great to fry. You would fry these in the same way that you do the tostones which is fried twice. So you will slice them and fry them once and then flatten them and fry them again. They’re delicious if you like that sweeter flavor profile. This I think is probably everybody’s favorite. This is the maduro and it could be this ripe or even be completely black. People think, “Oh, it’s rotten.” It’s not. It’s just really, really ripe so it’ll be softer and these are just amazing fried, because the sugar on them caramelizes really well. But again, you can boil them. You can do so many things with it. I think the plantain is a great base for many things and you can substitute it for many of your other carb dishes and it’s a great way of experimenting with Latin cuisine and a way of trying something that gives you a nutritional boost and maybe something you haven’t tried before to surprise your family.