Or as I like to call them, “plantain pupsas.”
Tortillas de platano verde is an Ecuadorian recipe I’ve been eyeing for some time. They aren’t really pupusas, which are a Salvadoran treat made with masa instead of plantains. On the other hand, they aren’t entirely unlike pupusas, so much so that I couldn’t stop myself from calling them that all afternoon. This recipe is kind of a weekend recipe, both because the preparation (which is not hard) takes a little time, as does the cooking. The nice part is that they can be made ahead of time. You can keep the uncooked patties in the fridge for a day or two, but I find they really do re warm nicely re-pan seared on the stove, as the plantains are not quick to burn. These freeze really well also. You can either set them out and let them reach room temperature before re pan searing, or thaw/heat them in the microwave, then pan sear to get the outside crisp.
The one kicker to this recipe is that unless you live in the tropics, green plantains aren’t always readily available. Even in Dallas they can be hard to find. While most grocery stores will carry plantains, I find that they are usually ripe, and way overripe at that. They probably come in green, and the store just let’s them sit there until the fruit flies become a problem. The yellow/brown ripe plantains, are much, much sweeter and typically used in completely different ways than the green ones. Thus, this recipe was more a result of, “Oh look, green plantains!” than of any pre conceived master plan to make tortillas verdes on this particular day. Typically I think these are stuffed with different variations on cheese. (Just cheese, cheese and onions, cheese and chorizo.. you get the picture.) I used a Mexican melting cheese, of which there are many varieties. Queso quesadilla, asadero, Oaxaca or anything that says “Mexican melting cheese” will suffice. Or you can just use shredded cheddar or something fancier, but I personally like how melty the other stuff gets. (Mozzarella is a good substitute if you can’t find Mexican melting cheese.)
The dough here is very, very sticky. I rubbed my hands with a little vegetable oil for both the mixing and the rolling, and this worked extremely well. I only had to reapply once or twice. You definitely want your hands oiled, because once you put in the fillings and start to form them into patties, you don’t want the dough to stick to your hand, ripping open all your delicate work. But, once they are formed and sit out for a few minutes, the patties are pretty durable. There is just something about this recipe that kind of takes you back to Meso America. I’m not even sure if tortillas verdes were in the Meso American diet, but gently rolling, filling, and forming them into patties is almost soothing as you create something humble, yet refined.
In an inspired bout of leftovers, I wilted some spinach with sautéed cherry tomatoes, laid the tortillas on top in a pretty fashion, and topped with caramelized onions and more thin slices of chorizo and added some aji sauce and this humble little plantain patty turned into something you could almost eat at a fancy restaurant. We will definitely be making these again, probably the next time I think, “Oh look! Green plantains!”
Tortillas de Platanos Verdes
- 6 green plantains (not yellow, but green)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3oz chorizo (give or take)
- 3oz oaxaca cheese (or asadero, queso quesadilla, or even mozzarella will work)
|Peel the plantains under cool running water (to keep them from browning) and put the peeled ones in a bowl of cool water until you need them. Take 4 1/2 of the plantains, cover with water and boil until tender, about 30 minutes. Keep the remaining 1.5 plantain in the cold water. Meanwhile, if your chorizo is in casing take it out of the casing and cook it, then remove to a plate and reserve for later use. Either grate your cheese, or if you are using oaxaca cheese you can kind of pull it apart into small pieces.|
|Once the plantains are tender, pull the pot off the heat and let them cool until they are not too hot to handle. While waiting for this, finely grate the rest of the plantain. Once slightly cooled, put the boiled plantains in a food processor with the egg, salt and butter and mix until it's thick and dough-like, kind of like in between the consistency of thick mashed potatoes and bread dough. It will make sense once you're there. Put a little oil or butter on your hands to keep the mix from sticking, and mix the grated plantain in with the mashed plantain. Then break off reasonably big chunks and form into balls. You should get 12-15 balls, about the size of a baseball. You can make them whatever size you want, but keep in mind smaller balls equal less filling in them.|
|Heat a skillet on medium heat and spray with pan spray, or lightly oil. Press a dimple into the balls, fill with filling, and shape the plantain dough over the filling so none of it pokes through. Cook on each side until it becomes golden and the center is warmed through, about 5-6 minutes per side. Serve immediately, and warm, with salsa or aji.|