In this festive and holy Christmas season, the Sunday Guardian sought out the quiet-spoken and reflective Fr John Pereira, abbot of Mount St Benedict Monastery in St Augustine, for the last
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Plantains, can we ever tire of them? Truly a mainstay among our Caribbean fruits, it is used in its entire splendour by our Spanish Caribbean neighbours. The greatest attribute of plantains, notwithstanding their deliciousness, lies in their versatility; we can enjoy them at any stage, from green to ripe, and they are available all year. They’re great when made into chips and enjoyed with a zesty salsa, pounded and fried they become great carriers for a spicy shrimp sauté, or a salsa. When baked in freshly squeezed orange juice with a grating of nutmeg they become an irresistible side dish. Although we tend to mostly enjoy plantains boiled or fried, enjoying them prepared in different ways during their different stages almost makes them addictive!
2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced lengthways into four strips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the filling:
12 oz minced beef
1 small green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 small tomatoes, skinned and chopped finely
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large frying pan heat vegetable oil and fry plantains until golden brown on either side, about seven minutes.
Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Meanwhile heat olive oil, add onion, garlic and pepper; sauté until fragrant, add ground beef and cook until brown.
Add tomatoes, thyme and bread crumbs. Add Worcestershire sauce.
Fold in beaten egg and season to taste. The mixture should just come together when stirred.
Curve the plantain slices into rings and secure with toothpicks.
Place the plantain rings into a buttered baking dish and preheat oven to 375F.
Fill the rings with the meat mixture and sprinkle with any unused breadcrumbs.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes until the top is crusty.
• Makes 12 Piononos
2 green plantains, peeled and sliced widthways into two-inch thick slices
Vegetable oil for frying
Heat oil in frying pan, fry plantain pieces on either side until lightly browned. Remove and drain on paper towels, cool slightly.
With a meat pounder lightly pound plantain pieces to about 1/4 inch thickness.
Return pounded plantains to hot oil, and fry on both sides until golden brown.
Repeat for all plantain pieces.
Drain and serve warm as a snack.
Or as a holder for bean or tomato salsas.
• Makes 8
BAKED PLANTAIN WITH ORANGE JUICE AND NUTMEG
1 ripe plantain, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices, lengthways
Juice of one orange
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp Olive oil
Preheat oven to 375F
Lightly grease a shallow baking dish with oil.
Arrange plantain slices side by side. Sprinkle with nutmeg and orange juice.
Turn and repeat.
Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.
• Serves 4
GRILLED PLANTAIN CAKES
2 ripe plantains
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup chopped chives
Salt to taste
2 tbsps olive oil
Boil plantains until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Mash plantains with a potato masher.
Add chives, garlic, and salt, stir to combine.
Make plantains into two-inch patties.
Brush with olive oil.
Grill until browned on each side.
• Serves 4
CRISPY PLANTAIN STICKS
2 green plantains
Oil to fry
Peel plantains and slice lengthways into 1/4 inch slices, cut into three inch strips.
Heat oil in a frying pan and add plantain strips. Fry until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels and salt.
•Serves four as a light snack