When it comes to the Spanish tortilla (Spanish omelet), I didn’t think there were any other ways to make it save for with potatoes. Well, I was wrong because never in a million years would I have thought about making a tortilla with plantains, but you know what? It works. Quite well I might add. Thanks to my beautiful cookbook The Cuban Table, I was apprised of such “culinary sorcery.”
If you’re not familiar with plantains, upon first glance you might think they’re bananas but they’re not. Plantains are more like the very distant cousin to the banana. They’re quite different namely due to the fact that plantains contain more starch and less sugar than dessert bananas and so are typically cooked or otherwise processed before being eaten. As in, you would severely regret it if you ever tried to just eat a plantain as you do a banana. But both come from the fruit of the Musa Paradisiaca, a type of banana plant (hence the physical resemblance).
Plantains are hugely popular and common all throughout Latin America and they were something I had with every meal just about when living in Costa Rica with my host family (well, plantains and fried yucca). The other great thing about plantains is that since they’re more of a “cooking banana,” there are countless ways to prepare them-fried, twice fried (patacones), chips, mariquitas–the list goes on and on.
I love making tortillas because they require so few ingredients and are ridiculously simple to make. Although the traditional tortilla made with potatoes will probably always be my favorite, I also enjoyed straying and trying something new since that’s what being a good cook is all about, verdad?
Tortilla de Platanos Maduros (Fried Ripe Plantain Omelet)
Recipe courtesy of The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Pelaez and Ellen Silverman
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed with the back of a knife
3 large ripe plantains, peeled and cut into diagonal slices 1-inch long (I simplified things by using pre-cooked frozen plantains, any grocery store that sells Hispanic food products should have something similar. Not to mention, the plantains at my store are never close to being ripe when I need them)
8 extra-large eggs
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
-Heat the oil over medium heat in a 10-inch skillet. Add the mashed garlic and cook until golden on all sides, 1-2 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oil and discard. Add the plantains and cook until they are a deep amber with black edges. Remove the plantains from the skillet and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
-Beat together the eggs, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Stir in the fried plantains. Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon of oil from the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the egg mixture to the skillet and cook until the eggs begin to set and the underside is lightly browned.
-Remove the skillet from the heat and cover with a large plate. Hold the plate down firmly, quickly turn over the skillet so that the tortilla slides out onto the plate. Return the skillet to medium heat and add additional oil if needed. Slide the tortilla back onto the skillet and cook on the other side an additional 3-5 minutes or until it reaches the desired degree of doneness.
-Flip the tortilla one more time onto a serving plate. Serve at room temperature either sliced into wedges for individual portions or cut into squares as an appetizer.