Maple Curry Plantains

maple-curry-plantains3

‘Sup guys. If you celebrated any kind of festivities yesterday, then I hope that it was filled with good food and good times with your family and loved ones. It’s a little weird to still have it be relatively warm and snow-less here on the west side for this time of year, but it was still a pretty good day. I’m in a pretty decent mood from the stuff that came out of my own kitchen. I’m in an even better one when I think of all the leftovers that we’re gonna have for the next few days from it.

maple-curry-plantains5

So, moving on to the item of the day: plantains.

I’ve known what they were for a good long while, but back in the Mitten, we didn’t have very many of them in our grocery stores. Even when we did, it was only at certain times of year and they didn’t come very inexpensive by the pound.

On this side of the tracks, not only have I yet to go to a grocery store and NOT seen plantains, they’re generally pretty inexpensive here. I think it’s probably because I live in an area with a very high Latino/Hispanic population and plantains are pretty common in Latin cuisine.

maple-curry-plantains1

Like Latin, Caribbean cuisine (and Latin Caribbean as well when I think about it) is one that I don’t have nearly enough experience cooking, or eating for that matter. I do know that plantains are used a lot in them all. Plantains are similar to bananas, they’re just slightly larger, less sweet and more firm/starchy. Up until now, they kinda baffled me. I wasn’t sure of how they were supposed to be cooked or taste: were they supposed to be cooked to be sweet like bananas, or in a more savory application like squash?

Since I  wasn’t sure, I just decided to leave them alone for a while. But as it tends to happen with ingredients/recipes I avoid out of intimidation, it popped back up on my radar.
maple-curry-plantains2

Before I even came out, my sister told me about a Caribbean restaurant in the area that when I got here I just HAD to try. She raved about their jerk chicken, greens and in particular, their preparation of plantains. When my birthday came around in September, she bought me dinner at the joint and I finally got to see what all the fuss was about with plantains.

Yeah, I get it now. They’re delicious.

You are reminded of bananas when you eat them, just a much more starchy and less mushy/sweet one. I could tell that the plantains at the restaurant she took me too were probably fried in butter, but not seasoned with any particular spices so as to let their own flavor stand out. They were also tender on the inside and browned on the outside. After that dinner I was set upon figuring out how to make them myself.

Didn’t take me too long.

maple-curry-plantains4

Because I was going in knowing nothing about cooking plantains, I decided to gather inspiration from far greater minds than mine who I knew would know what was what when handling them. One of my Marcus Samelsson cookbooks featured a recipe with plantains where they are actually fried twice in oil. After the first fry, they get pressed down flat with a wooden spoon then dunked into a garlic water bath; this, I assume is to draw out excess starch that would prevent them from getting a good crust in the second fry.

And it IS in that second fry where the real magic happens. Here’s the best part you guys: I actually had two ripe plantains and one plantain that even after sitting on the counter in a paper bag for 2 days with the other ones, was still green on the outside and not-too-ripe. They ALL came out fantastic. Granted, the ripe plantains had more ‘meat’ to their insides, but the green plantain actually developed a golden brown crusty layer on the outside that contrasted with the starchy inside perfectly.

The plantains could stand on their own just like that, but when you add the quick maple syrup-curry powder glaze to them…OMGAWD. We agreed immediately that these would be going into the rotation, stat. I think you and yours will agree if you try this recipe, which I’ll be linking up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #147, co-hosted this week by  Julianna @ Foodie On Board and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.

*******************************************************

Maple Curry Plantains

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport, Recipe Technique Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson

Print

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Peanut oil for frying

Directions

Heat about 1 inch of the peanut oil in a skillet to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the water, garlic cloves and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a separate smaller bowl mix together the curry powder and maple syrup and set aside.

Take the plantains and fry them in batches in the peanut oil until golden brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Using a spider or a metal spatula transfer the plantains to the baking sheet. Wait 1 to 2 minutes for them to cool, then stand the plantains up on edge; using the flat end of the spatula or a wooden spoon, smash the plantains to half their diameter.

Place the smashed plantains into the garlic water and let them soak for 1 minute.  Remove and gently blot dry with paper towels.

Make sure the oil has returned to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the plantains again until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes per side depending on how crisp you prefer them to be. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Take the maple syrup-curry mixture and either drizzle or dab it onto the plantains with a pastry brush. Serve immediately.

Honey Spice Roasted Potatoes

honey-spice-roasted-potatoes1

Wasting food.

I hate doing it. I can and will eat leftovers for days until the food is gone before I’ll toss it in the trash or garbage disposal out of ‘boredom’. And even when/if it does spoil and I HAVE to throw it out, I still cringe from irritation and guilt.

It could be because I love food. It could also be because I’m cheap/low in $ funds 98% of the time, and don’t want to see what my money paid for being wasted.

honey-spice-roasted-potatoes2

The “inspiration” for this dish was really nothing more than the fact that we had a big bag of russet potatoes in the kitchen that we’d bought as apart of a discount, telling ourselves we’d make baked potatoes.

Naturally, that didn’t happen. They just sat there for a good long while and it finally got to the point where I was concerned that they were going to spoil and go to waste. You guys know how anal retentive I am when it comes to wasting food. I wasn’t throwing out a whole bag of still-usable potatoes. Nuh-uh. So, I decided to just go ahead and use them for something that would cook them all in one go–my taste buds had a craving for wedges, so that’s what I went with.

honey-spice-roasted-potatoes6

My process for coming up with this went as follows: I washed and cut the potatoes, opened my spice cabinet and literally just started taking bottles out and shaking the contents together into a bowl if I thought it sounded like they’d taste good when combined. The ‘wild card’ in the bunch was the turmeric. Turmeric’s got a pungent, gingery, almost spicy orange aftertaste to it. It’s used a lot in curry dishes in Asian and Indian dishes and is actually a pretty healthy spice for your as well.

Its bright yellow and can also stain your counter tops and hands yellow for a few days if you’re not careful, but moving on.

honey-spice-roasted-potatoes4

After cutting them up, I combined the turmeric with some oil and other spices into a paste, then tossed that together with the potatoes. After cranking up the oven I spread them out on a pair of sheet pans and roasted them until they were tender on the inside and the oil on the pans made them crispy on the outside edges.

honey-spice-roasted-potatoes5

The cumin gives the potatoes a smoky earthy flavor while the turmeric and honey provides a spicy sweetness that marries the flavors together very nicely. If Russet potatoes aren’t really your thing, then that’s fine: I can see this working VERY well with Yukon Gold or sweet potatoes too. If wedges aren’t your thing then you can also just cut them into large or smaller chunks and adjust your roasting time to be longer or shorter as needed.

There’s a certain occasion coming up on Thursday where a lot of Americans get together and do a lot of eating. If you still need an easy and delicious side dish for that occasion that will still feed a lot of people, then I’d offer up this one for consideration.

Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #146 co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Honey Spice Roasted Potatoes

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

Print

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. russet/baking potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed
  • About 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, plus extra if necessary
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thirds/wedges, making sure they are more or less the same size and width to make sure they cook evenly.

Place the potatoes in a  plastic re-sealable gallon size bag.

In a small bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients together and mix together with a fork or whisk. It should resemble a loose kind of paste but still be fluid enough to coat the potatoes. If it’s still to thick, drizzle in additional oil into the dressing by tablespoons until it’s liquid-y enough.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes, seal the bag and toss around for two to three turns until the dressing has evenly coated the potatoes.

Spray two half sheet pans well with non-stick cooking spray. Divide the potatoes between the pans and spread out in one even layer.

Roast for 35-40 minutes, mixing the potatoes and switching the pans around half-way through until they are fork-tender in the middle and crisp at the edges.

Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

shredded-beef-sandwiches2

Well. Hi.

We don’t have to talk too much about what happened this week. It happened. To say I’m upset would be the understatement of the century. This is a terrible, embarrassing, and frankly shameful turn of events for my country. I won’t personally apologize for it (I voted for the right person for the job), but it still shouldn’t have happened. It should not be. I am both dismayed and terrified for the future of America and the many groups of people who had so much at stake in this election. The future as far as I can see, looks very bleak. Yet here we are.

(Don’t debate me in the comments section. Don’t tell me not to panic and that everything is somehow going to be ok. I’m an African American woman and what happened this week drastically & negatively affects my livelihood and the livelihood of millions of other Americans in my country. I’m not going to be PC about that. If you’re offended or take issue with any of the above, then you can feel free to unfollow this blog with all quickness. I legitimately could not care less.)

shredded-beef-sandwiches3

However, seeing as we’re all just here for the food anyway let’s focus on that far more pleasant subject instead.  After this week I’m in desperate need of a pick-up. A HUGE pick up.

Cooking is not just my sport, it’s one of my chief ways of practicing self-care; a way I can inject some peace & calm into my life when I’m stressed out. When I know that I’m cooking good food, it puts me in a good mood. Eating that good food then puts me in a great one.

shredded-beef-sandwiches4

Today’s recipe is one of those dishes that instantly put me into a better mood, just by existing. The best part about it is, it’s actually a pretty low maintenance & low effort meal, especially if you use a slow cooker.

You guys know that I’m usually a poultry girl. Chicken breast is my mainstay and the protein nine times out of ten, I’m gonna want. However, sometimes I get a craving and suddenly nothing but red meat will do it for me.

shredded-beef-sandwiches6

When I get a hankering for red meat, I don’t want a fancy steak. I’ve gotta have a sandwich. Either a big juicy burger, or…one of these. A ginormous shredded/pulled beef sandwich.

Guys, I just….looking at pictures of this is making me miss eating this thing already. It’s so good. What’s more, I’m going to go ahead and say that this another one of those recipes that is EXTREMELY difficult to mess up, even if cooking isn’t really your ‘thing’.

shredded-beef-sandwiches7

I’m really not fond of beer as a beverage. I think it tastes like piss would if I actually knew what piss tastes like-which I don’t, but y’know…moving on. However, taste-wise I’ve found that beer can it can do some pretty amazing things to a piece of meat and for those purposes, I use it often in my cooking. When combined with the other simple ingredients in the marinade, this makes for a savory, garlicky and juuuuust slightly tangy flavor that gets infused in the meat overnight, then is cooked in the slow cooker (or the oven if you don’t have or want to use one of those).

shredded-beef-sandwiches5

Pricking the meat all over before searing/cooking will make it more tender, so don’t skip that step. Going the low and slow route will make sure it isn’t tough and dry, so try not to rush this process by going “High” mode on the slow cooker or a higher temperature in the oven. Be patient. You’ll be rewarded for it in the end.

I made this recipe alongside the Fool-Proof Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions that I posted last week and built myself the sandwich of my dreams. When I tell you that it put a smile on my face…whew. I was a happy camper for dinner that night and you can bet your behind that every scrap of this delectable meat that you see here is long gone.

Do yourself a solid and make some of this. You’ll feel better. Promise.

I’m linking this post to Fiesta Friday #145.

**************************************************

Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Guinness or other dark stout beer
  • 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light molasses
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Beefy or regular onion soup envelope (Like Lipton’s)
  • About 4-5 lbs of either chuck roast, bottom round, rump roast, or London broil. You want a good braising cut; nothing too lean.
  • 1 medium sweet onion, roughly cut into thick slices or chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into large chunks or slices
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • About 1 tablespoon onion powder

 

Directions

Using a fork, prick the meat all over on both sides evenly.

In a medium bowl , whisk together the stout beer, soy sauce, , molasses, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, and onion soup. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups of the marinade for later use (refrigerate it).

Place the beef in a spill-proof gallon size plastic bag. Pour the remaining marinade over the beef and seal the bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Set a Dutch oven over high heat with a thin coating of vegetable oil in the bottom.  Spray the bottom of a slow cooker with cooking spray or place a slow cooker liner on the inside of it.

Remove the beef from the marinade then rub the salt, black pepper and onion powder over it. Then, place in the Dutch oven. Sear on both sides until it has a good browning , about 3-5 minutes per side.*

Place the roast in the slow cooker with the onion and green pepper sprinkled on both the top and bottom. Pour in enough of the reserved 1 1/2 cups marinade to come up halfway on the beef. Discard the rest.

Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours.

Using a fork gently pull at the meat. It should fall apart and shred easily. Assemble onto sandwiches with Dijon mustard and pickles and other preferred toppings/condiments.

*If you do not have a slow cooker, or want to cut down on the cooking time, this recipe can also be done by roasting in the oven. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. After the beef has finished searing, add the onion and bell pepper to the Dutch oven, as well as the reserved marinade. You can also use regular beef broth; (enough to make sure it won’t dry out or burn). Cover and roast for about 5-6 hours.

Fool-Proof, Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

caramelized-onions4

I can eat caramelized onions on and in just about anything. Sandwiches. Salad. Stew. Pizza. On toasted bread. A spoon (Yes. All by themselves and you will not judge me). They’re just that good. They’re such a simple ingredient that can really bump up a dish in a way that other condiments just can’t.

The thing about making caramelized onions is that the process can be both long and tricky. You have to have the time and patience to let the onions cook VERRRRRY low and slow over the stove top in the skillet. You also have to know when and how not to let them cook TOO much so that they scorch and burn.

caramelized-onions1

I won’t lie, they can be a labor of love that fortunately turns out to be well worth it. But to be sure…it can be a labor and for those that are uncomfortable in the kitchen, making caramelized onions just may not seem worth all the effort.

Until now, that is.

All of us caramelized onion lovers–both those who love to cook and those who don’t–listen up. I’m sharing a recipe today that is about to make all of our lives more easier.

caramelized-onions3

I decided to see if I could bypass all that extra-ness with hovering over a skillet of onions waiting on them to caramelize,and see if the slow cooker could do the job just as well. I was totally right. It totally could. And now I’m just left kinda wondering how and why I haven’t done this a loooong time ago.

Alright so, look. You can’t mess this recipe up, guys. Seriously. I don’t care how much of a bad/challenged/struggling cook you think you are, look me in my eyes: (ok, so you can’t do that actually , but pay attention closely.)

YOU.CAN’T.MESS.THIS.RECIPE.UP.

caramelized-onions2

This is the like The Elves and the Shoemaker fairy tale that we’ve all been waiting for. Literally, all you have to do is leave your ingredients out overnight in the slow cooker (the elves in this case), let it do its magic, then wake up in the morning and behold the wonder that it’s left for you to partake in. You sprinkle in some sugar, wait a little bit more and BAM. You’re done.

That’s….it. I’m not kidding. I almost couldn’t believe it myself. But the onions were there, finished. And soooo delicious.

A few notes: my #1 onion onion of choice will always be the sweet Vidalia. However, I do enjoy red onions too and when caramelized they take on their own sharp sweetness that goes great with pizza and sandwiches. White onions…meh. I’m not a fan of their peppery bite, but if that’s what floats your boat, have at it Charlie. I’ve also included an option in the recipe for those that prefer a more vinegary acidic flavor to their onions rather than sweetness. Either way, you’re going to be happy with these results. I guarantee it.

Happy Fiesta Friday #144, co-hosted this week by Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen.

Foolproof Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

Print

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • About 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons of light brown sugar OR white wine, or balsamic vinegar (This really just depends on whether you want your onions sweet or acidic. It’s up to you.)

 

Directions

Spray the bottom of a 4-5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.

Spread the onions into the slow cooker. Drizzle in the vegetable oil in between them as you layer them.

Sprinkle with an even layer of salt and pepper.

Stir together to make sure they’re all evenly coated.

Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours. Towards the 8 or 10th hour, remove the lid and stir the onions. Sprinkle the brown sugar (or wine, or vinegar) evenly over them and re-cover, leaving the lid slightly cracked. Let cook for 1-2 more hours, until they’ve reached the dark color/caramelization you prefer.

Serve on sandwiches, salads, soups, etc.