I love playing around with food. It started when I was very young and my mother would open up her pantry to give me, her 5-year-old boy access to all the mysterious flours, herbs, and spices she had on hand. I would grab whatever looked or smelled good and mix it in a big bowl I called it my “potion”. I love my mother for that and give her credit in the early development of a self-proclaimed food nerd. I never stopped experimenting and now one of my favorite things to do is deconstruct all the tasty dishes and rebuild them in a context of health while retaining all or most of the elements that make them so rewarding. This week we are further investigating the use of the ever so dynamic plantain banana with a classic Puerto Rican dish called Mofongo. First, a few reasons why I like plantain so much.
- When bought green and still hard they are very starchy but not sweet. This allows them to be used like a potato in many dishes (plantain hash browns are amazing), or as a flour to make pancakes and muffins.
- They won’t spike your blood sugar like a potato or grain flour.
- They are a source of resistant starch which bypasses digestion, helps you detoxify, and becomes food that feeds the good bacteria in your colon.
As you can see in the pictures below green plantains look much different than your traditional Chiquita Banana. Look for bright green fruit that is firm with little to no browning on the skin. Not all grocery stores carry them but Whole foods and small specialty stores like Asian and Hispanic markets usually keep a good supply. Store them on the counter if using within a day or two or in the fridge, if it will be longer. Ok onto the recipe
Mofongo is made by deep frying green plantains then pounding them into a pulp with garlic, salt, and some type of fat. Many times you will see fried pork skins being added during the pounding as well. The result is an addictive starchy, fatty, aromatic dish eager to please. I love the resulting flavor profile and texture but have an issue with the technique so here is my take on it. Instead of deep-frying (which creates tissue-damaging free radicals), we are going to first boil the bananas to soften them up then roast in the oven to extract flavor. I like the addition of pork to the dish but in this recipe, we are going to use bacon instead of chicharrones (pork skins) again to avoid using fried food. Just this one strategy of swapping the frying technique with boiling and roasting creates a much healthier dish without compromising too much of the yum factor. Enjoy!
- 3 large green plantain bananas
- Large pot of heavily salted boiling water (salty like sea water)
- 3 tbsp avocado or coconut oil
- 3 large cloves garlic, diced small
- 3 stripes organic or pasture raise bacon
- 1 tbsp. grass fed butter
- 1/4 cup chicken, beef, or bone broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and cut bananas into 1″ pieces and place in the salted boiling water. Boil until fork tender. Drain into a colander to steam off until warm to the touch. Toss the bananas with the avocado or coconut oil to fully coat every piece then spread out onto a baking sheet or rim pan. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. While waiting cut the bacon up into small pieces and cook in a skillet until brown but not dark. After 15 minutes of roasting toss the diced garlic into the roasting pan and cook with the bananas for 5 minutes longer. Remove baking pan and dump bananas and garlic into a large bowl or pot. Add the cooked bacon and drippings along with the butter and broth to the pot. Using a potato masher or wooden dowel pound the bananas until they start to bind together but still have some chunks throughout. Mold into rounds and serve with vinegar and hot sauce on the side.