A larger and starchier cousin of the banana, plantains are a staple in most Central American homes. In Costa Rica, plantains are enjoyed in a number of ways, and at different levels of ripeness. One time-honored dish in many households is â€śplatanos maduros,â€ť which literally translates to ripe plantains. The dish is so deliciously sweet it could be served for dessert, but usually ends up as a side for lunch or dinner. This simple recipe can be adjusted according to personal preference and yields 6-8 servings.
4-5 ripe plantains (the skin must be black)
1Â˝ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Â ground cinnamon
Â˝ cup of unsalted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Â˝ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup water
The blacker and riper the plantain, the sweeter it will be. Platanos maduros is wonderful on its own, but is great served with salad, mashed potatoes, rice and beans or an accompaniment to any meal.Cut the ends off the plantains, then peel and cut evenly into one inch slices.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and slowly saute the plantains until they take on a golden color.
After the plantains are golden brown, flip over gently with a spatula Â repeating on the other side.
Add 1 cup of brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and juice from one lime. Stir together and let sit for one minute.
Add water and slowly sprinkle remaining half cup of sugar over the plantains.
Turn down the heat and let the plantains simmer until the liquid has reduced and the sugar has caramelized.
Serve immediately while hot!
Nutritional value of plantains
Pound for pound, plantains are higher in calories (about 125 calories each) compared to bananas, but are still considered very healthy. Rich in iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous, plantains are also an excellent source of fiber and B complex vitamins. In Costa Rica, plantains are sold year-round in grocery stores and farmerâ€™s markets, and they are becoming more widely available in the United States.