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Plantains, they are always available, and they are a mainstay of our West Indian diet. Plantain is the name given to the green form of the banana. Although they are cousins to the sweet banana they do not ripen in the same way and they certainly do not taste the same way sweet bananas do. They cannot be eaten raw and they are always less sweet. However they are indeed delicious, boiled or fried. Although plantains are often eaten fried, they are very versatile fruit and can be cooked at the green stage through to ripe.
They are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamins C and B6, and a good source of vitamin A. Plantains themselves are not indigenous to the West Indies but was brought to the islands by missionaries and cultivated. Slave rations of food at that time were not great but did include some plantain. Each slave received one or two bunches as a week’s worth of provisions. They used plantains to make many things for example wine, they boiled them and ate them as you would potatoes and they deep-fried them.
BAKED PLANTAIN WITH BROWN SUGAR CRUST and NUTMEG
2 ripe plantains, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices, lengthways
1 tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp Angostura bitters
1 tbs lime juice
Preheat oven to 375ºF
Combine brown sugar with nutmeg
Lightly grease a shallow baking dish and arrange plantain slices side by side.
Combine lime juice with bitters, brush onto plantains and sprinkle the sugar mixture, bake until lightly browned, about ten to 15 mins.
SPICY BEEF AND PLANTAIN CASSEROLE
2 Ripe plantains, peeled and sliced lengthways into four strips
1 tbs vegetable oil
For the filling:
1 lb ground beef
2 tbs fresh thyme
1 tbs fresh green seasoning
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 tbs, olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, seeded and finely chopped or 2 pimento peppers seeded and chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tsp tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese
Preheat oven to 350ºF
Place plantains onto a greased baking tray and bake for ten minutes until tender. Remove from oven.
Season beef with green seasoning, thyme and garlic.
Meanwhile heat olive oil, and pepper sauté until fragrant, add ground beef and cook until it loses its pink colour.
Add tomatoes, and tomato paste.
Stir and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Season to taste with salt.
Layer plantains with ground beef, in a 9 X 9 greased casserole dish.
Top with cheese and bake for 20 minutes at 350ºF.
Serves four to six
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 cup mashed ripe plantain
1/4 cup sour cream or (1/4 milk combined with 1 tsp vinegar)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375ºF
Place flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and chives in a mixing bowl.
Beat eggs and combine with sour cream, and plantain.
Add to dry mixture, stir just to combine.
Place mixture into a nine- inch square baking tin, sprinkle with black pepper and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden.
Serves six to eight
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