Playing with Platanos (Plantains for the Spanish-illiterate)

My first food post…it dawned on me after I’d finished cooking that perhaps I should take a photo and include tonight’s recipe in my up and coming blog so here it is, folks! I apologize for the poor plating. I realize you ‘eat with your eyes first’ and so I vow to improve my aesthetic abilities. In my defense, I really had no ‘plan’ to dish out the first recipe post tonight. For all of you who don’t know, I cook dinner for my cousin David and I whenever I have time during the week (or, ahem, I make time). So bon apetit, David!

Chicken_Platanos_Pilaf

Chicken thigh marinated in soy, sake and scallion with rice pilaf and platanos.

I’m not very good at naming things (my Curious George stuffed animal collection includes George, Georgie, Georgette, Georgina, Georgie Jr., etc.) so I hope we can all live with this description for now.

My inspiration? The chicken thigh was marinating in the fridge for a few days so that was just simple, flavorful and no-fuss. I just had to pop it in the oven. It’s a family recipe I’ve been making for years. I tweaked it a bit this time because I ran out of wine and used sake instead. Mmm…chicken thigh. So tender. So juicy.

I’ve had spinach rice pilaf a million times at Jimmy’s Steakhouse, which used to be in the Burlington mall, which I used to go to all the time on family outings for their prime rib. (I used to love steak as a kid) Now that Jimmy’s has been replaced with (dare I say) the Wal-Mart of restaurants (aka The Cheesecake Factory), I have to venture to the ‘other’ Jimmy’s in Arlington if I want a prime rib or a run-in with all the 60+ in the Middlesex county. Anyhoo, I’m going green and going healthy with my twist on Jimmy’s spinach rice pilaf, substituting olive oil for butter.

I bought 5 platanos on sale at Shaw’s last week. My Puerto Rican friend Linda and I love to make tostones–fried plantains–atop which we sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt. I decided instead of making tostones this week, I’d try to make something different with riper platanos, versus the usual, unripened green plantains with which we make tostones. I used matured, yellow plantains to make this platanos dish, which I baked in foil with garlic and with my cousin David’s creole seasoning. It was something I’ve never tried and it turned out surprisingly well! Salty, savory and sweet. The yam-like texture was a nice contrast to the chicken and rice.

Chicken Thighs

serves 4

  • 2 cups sake
  • 1 cup tamari soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy paste
  • 1 stalk scallion, chopped into 3 in.-longs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 4 chicken thighs (w/ skin)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large ziploc bag and marinate in the fridge overnight. (Best if marinated overnight or over 2 nights. If you’re in a rush, you can reduce the marination time but your chicken will be less flavorful and less juicy).
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the center tier until golden brown.

Spinach Rice Pilaf

serves 4

  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 handfuls of spinach, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 cups of cooked white rice (I recommend Nishiki medium-grain rice)
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt (more or less, it’s up to you)
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and garlic in wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the spinach after the garlic begins to sizzle.
  3. Add salt and cook until spinach wilts.
  4. Add in rice and the rest of the olive oil (2 Tbsp.).
  5. Stir-fry until spinach and rice are incorporated (~3 min.)
  6. *Optional: if you’re a butter lover (or buttah lovah as we say in Bahston), you can add in a tablespoon or so at the end for taste.

Platanos (day 1)

  • 2 yellow plantains
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Creole seasoning (David likes Tony Chachere’s)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Peel plantains and place on foot-long sheet of aluminum foil (roughly 12″ x 8″)
  3. Sprinkly Creole seasoning and add garlic atop.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Wrap foil up from sides and then roll top like a lunch bag (this doesn’t have to be too tight).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until plantains are soft. Remove from oven and mash with a fork. (I prefer chunky platanos)

Notes for next time:

-find a more interesting way to plate rice besides the cheesy, ‘Asian’ way of the rounded ball

-use more color than a strawberry-wannabe-garnish

-incorporate more veggies besides the spinach in the pilaf

Oh, and Happy Lunar New Year! 新年快乐!It’s the year of the ox (holy cow! it’s YOUR year–Dan & Aunt Pearlz) I celebrated with family, friends and good food on Sunday back in Lex. I wish I’d done a better job taking pictures of all the delicious food my family and I had spent preparing but alas, I was busy playing host and cooking the sticky rice chicken and Chilean sea bass. Thanks to mom, dad, Aunt Jin, Jon, and Cindy for helping out with the cooking 🙂

CNY

Thanks for joining, friends!

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