Platano Horneado con Queso – Baked Plantain
We had a historical weekend here in the U.S. For the most part I just wanted to ignore what was happening. History has always fascinated me though, because no matter what we do now, history cannot be changed. It may be altered or exaggerated for entertainment purposes in books or movies, but what happened will be unchanged, unless we had a time machine, there is nothing we can do about it. That is how we sworn in the 45th president of the United States this past weekend against the will of the majority of voters (sight!). All we have left to do is put our best foot forward, and that brings us to the next historical event of the weekend: The Women’s March. A successful demonstration that the country wants to continue moving forward towards equality and human rights. Bravo!
Our family had a busy weekend. I needed a bite that could warm my soul and make me forget. I remember that every time she didn’t feel like making an elaborated dinner, my mom would make us baked plantains (platanos horneados). Well, my mom had her own method as we didn’t have an oven. Even though her hack worked out perfectly, baking them is the most common method to get this delicious golden result, and it is so easy. Of course, I didn’t remember how she makes them so I sent her a text, she replied: “just put on plain butter and some sugar.” I also surveyed a group of friends to see how their families make them, I got several different answers, but the common denominators seemed to be butter and sugar.
Plantains look like bananas, they are from the same plant family, with the difference that they must be cooked before consuming it. They are not as sweet as banana although they do have natural sugars that normally help the caramelization you see on fried plantains. (Fact: I ate fried plantains with every meal, every day, until I moved to the U.S.). For this recipe, I used maple syrup instead of sugar, to help bring out their natural sweetness and obtain that beautiful golden color. They are served with a salty cheese for a nice contrast of flavors that tastes heavenly to me. This recipe couldn’t be simpler. One more thing: the plantains must be very ripe, I purchase plantains often and keep them on my kitchen counter until they are ready to use. Make Platanos Horneados con Queso as a side dish, although they are very satisfying as a full meal too.
(serves 6 – half plantain per person as a side dish)
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup tablespoons cotija cheese (or more, I won’t judge)
Preheat the oven to 400º F
With a sharp knife cut the ends of the plantain, make a cut lengthwise on the peel making sure that you don’t go too deep into the flesh. Peel off with your hands, as you would a banana. Place the plantains in a baking sheet prepared with silicon matt or parchment paper. Place the butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until completely melted. Add the maple syrup and stir. Brush the butter mixture on top of the plantains. Using thongs turn them and make sure they are completely coated with the butter. It is ok to have some butter left, we will use this after they bake.
Bake for 30 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes, so they golden brown in all sides. They are done when easily pierced with a fork. Remove for the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Brush with any butter left.
Cut each plantain in half, then a paring knife make a small incision in the center, fill with cotija cheese and serve immediately. Enjoy!