Baseball Boy and I have encountered a series of plantain failures as of late. It’s a sad, sad thing, and I’m trying to figure out if the universe has something to tell me.
The first failure happened about a month ago. His craving of plantains caused us to leave Clintonville and head south for lunch. After much discussion and menu perusing online, we chose Banana Bean Cafe over El Arepazo. Bad choice.
The very item that lead us to the Cuban restaurant – Flash Fried Sweet Plantains with Ya-Ya Sauce – was sold out for the day. No plantains. The rest of the food was pretty good, except for the Floribbean Jerk Chicken, a fact that I blame entirely on BB.
Apparently, in a previous life, he’d worked for the city sanitation department, and felt like the goo mixture from the pineapple and mango-habanjero ketchup tasted and smelled like the juice at the bottom of a garbage bag. He decided to tell me this mid-bite. Suddenly, the excellent sandwich did not seem to taste so good.
Last week, partially in response to his disappointment at having missed out on plantains at Banana Bean, I decided to make Mashed Plantains with Bacon and Onion.
It held some of my favorite ingredients: plantains, onions, butter and bacon. Mixed together with whole milk, I can’t think of a healthier side dish.
The result was not a mashed plantain with sweet onions and savory bacon. It was a plantain slop with sweet onions and savory bacon.
And it tasted nothing like plantains. (It did, however, taste like bacon and butter, so it wasn’t a complete loss in my book.)
I’m not sure who to blame. The recipe for calling for too much milk? Or me, for adding the plantains to the heated milk mixture, rather than adding (some of) the heated milk mixture to the plantains.
BB ate the slop, along with the fish tacos I made with it. The next day, I poured it over rice and added some black beans and cheese. Not a bad save. Next time I want plantains, I think that I’ll just go to El Arepazo.
Mashed Plantains with Bacon and Onions
From Gourmet, March 2004
1½ teaspoons salt
½ lb bacon, chopped (6 slices)
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1½ cups whole milk
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter
2. While plantains cook, cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon of mixture for garnish, then add milk, pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt (mixture may appear curdled). Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.
3. Drain plantains in a colander and return to saucepan. Reheat milk mixture and mash plantains with a potato masher, adding hot milk mixture and butter. Sprinkle reserved bacon and onion on top.