Favorite Family Recipes: Maduros {Fried Plantains}

Being part of a bi-cultural family has brought me many interesting experiences.

maduros

On the one hand, there is the Latin flair gleaned from my mom’s upbringing in her native Panama. But, most people who visit my parents’ home likely note, upon first impression, a stronger hillbilly southern influence, given the way my dad proudly labels himself a “redneck hippy.” (Insert multiple question marks here.) But there are some glaring Panamanian pops that dominate the household. Plantain bananas are one of them. Mom does well with balancing her Panamanian specialties with Dad’s southern favorites, like fried chicken and hot-water cornbread.

maduros

Mom serves these delicious maduros at least once a week. I recall getting tired of eating them on the regular as a kid. But now, in grown up life, my heart jumps a bit when Mom says she is making maduros. I even whip them up myself every once in a while.

No frills or fanciness to our maduros. They are simply ripened plantains, sliced and fried in oil. We don’t get the green unripened ones for this particular cooking style of plantains. In a future post, I will show you what we do with the green ones.

My Ingredients
1-2 plantain bananas (ripe…blacker the plantain, the better!)
Vegetable Oil, enough to fill a skillet about 1/3 of the way up
Salt, optional

First, I heat a skillet of oil over medium-high heat. My mom prefers to use her cast iron. Since I have a glass top stove at my house, I don’t cook on the stove top with cast iron. I use my favorite enamel skillet instead. I took these pictures at the spur of the moment my parents’ house while Mom and I were cooking so you will see a cast iron.

maduros
We made this plantain work, but typically we use plantains which are much more ripe than this one. The blacker/darker the plantain, the better for maduros. Seriously, they are best when the plantain is so black you think you will have to trash it.

I slice the banana into 1/2 to 1 inch slices at a diagonal. Perfecting slices doesn’t suit me. Isn’t irregularity so much more interesting?

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Into the hot oil, the slices go, slowly and carefully. I fry them about 2-3 minutes on each side until they are a nice golden brown with a slight blackness to the edges.

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I carefully remove them with a slotted spoon or spatula.

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I place them on a plate covered with paper towels to help absorb the oil. If desired, now is the time to add a little sea salt or table salt while they are still hot. Typically, we don’t salt ours.

maduros

Ay…que rico! A perfect and simple side item with no frills. I have had them served with fancy bells and whistles at gourmet Caribbean or Latin restaurants. And while I’ve never met a maduro I didn’t like, I still prefer them plain and simple – kind of like a good ole’ standard French fry. When prepared this way, they should have a slightly crunchy outside with a chewy inside.

maduros

What are some multicultural foods eaten in your home?

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11 comments

  1. The Gifted Gabber says:

    Katharine,
    At some of the Cuban restaurants I've been to, the maduros have been served with special sauces. Also, they are sometimes tossed with brown sugar before fried to help carmelize them. Some people prefer to use butter instead of oil. But we always do ours this way – with just vegetable oil and the plantains. Salt, if you want it. Delicious!
    I've never given brats and kraut much of a chance. I find that my adult palate is so different from when I was younger, so maybe it is worth trying it out again!

  2. Katharine says:

    What are some of the fancy bells and whistles restaurants use? I want my husband's first encounter with this idea to be, umm, funner? 😉

    Also, you asked, and one multi-cultural dish we love is brats and kraut. Mmmm! I found some brats that are part venison, and cannot help but feel they are the most authentic I've ever tasted. 🙂

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