Cuban ground beef with fried plantains

Posted in Exotic, Main Course, Savory, Uncategorized, Winter on Jan 22, 2010

035“I’m sorry, you’re doing what with those bananas?”  That’s what everyone wanted to know when I started heating up the oil to fry the plantains.

“These are not bananas.  They are plantains.”  I didn’t have a plan for them when I purchased them, and as they sat on my counter, slow turning from green to yellow, yellow to black and yellow, I figured I’d better get off the stick and come up with a plan.

Of course, since I’ve never cooked with plantains before, I wasn’t sure where to start.  I thought about making muffins or something, but remembered that they are often used in savory dishes.  So I went internet diving to see what I could find.  Good ole Emeril had a recipe for a Pinon, a Cuban-style Beef and Plantain Pie. That sounded pretty darn good to me, but I thought the kids wouldn’t eat it if it was all baked together like that.  And then I found this recipe for Arroz ala Cubana that also sounded amazing.   I decided to riff off of both recipes and make Emeril’s beef mixture, but serve it over rice, and serve the plantains on the side.  Here’s what I started with (cribbed from Emeril’s recipe, sorta):

  • 1  pound ground beef
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 a chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 (26.455 ounce) box of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup drained green olives (with pimientos), halved
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 a kid’s snack box of raisins
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 semi-ripe plantains (yellow with some spots)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


Okay, so I know there are three plantains in the photo, but one of them was really Not Okay when I peeled it, so I opted to go with two.  Besides, I had no evidence that these would be warmly received, so why go whole-hog?

I did make everyone taste them raw.  From this point forward, plantains will be known as potato-bananas.


After slicing them up, I heated up the 1/2 cup of olive oil in my big ole iron skillet and then fried the sliced plantain until they were golden brown on each side.  These smelled really good cooking!


I removed these to a plate to hang out while I assembled the rest of the meal.  I think in future attempts, I’ll fry them last, as they were lukewarm after the 30 minutes of cook time for the other stuff.


Okay, so I chopped up the peppers and onion.


And here’s the meat and garlic.


First the veggies and spices went into the leftover olive oil from frying the plantains.  I stirred them around until they started to get soft and fragrant.


Then I added the beef, which after re-reading Emeril’s instructions, was the wrong order.  Oh well.  I cooked it until it was browned evenly.


Okay, now is where the “Cuban” stuff starts happening, I presume.  Here’s the rest of the players:


I added in 1/2  cup of tomato sauce, then dumped in the whole box of chopped tomatoes, juice and all, and then stirred in the vinegar, raisins and olives.  At this point, I was not convinced that this meal would be palatable.  I’m just not an olives + raisins understander.

On another note – look at my cute cute measuring cups.  I heard about them from Ree, and rushed out to get myself a set.


So anyhoo, simmer simmer simmer, stir stir stir, simmer simmer.


While that was simmering along, uncovered, I took a quick shot of medium measuring cup lady.  Unlike the other two, she positively bristles with menace.  I love her most of all.  She will totally cut you.


After 25 minutes, the whole mixture had thickened up substantially and the excess liquid had cooked off.  This stuff smelled like heaven.  Consider me a raisin + olive convert.


I served this over a bed of steamed rice, ringed with the fried plantains.  As I said above, it would have been nice to have the plantains fresh out of the oil, but other than that, the flavors were amazing.  Sweet, savory, meaty, with a smoky undercurrent.


So, what’s the verdict? The Boy enjoyed the hot plantains, but by the time they made it to the table, he wasn’t as thrilled.  He did like the meat mixture over the rice, and didn’t fight me on eating most of it.  Woo!  The Chef and the Sous Chef were not as crazy about the meat mixture, but they both liked the plantains enough to eat their entire portion.  And of course, both the husband and I were fans of this.  I’m calling this a success!


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4 to “Cuban ground beef with fried plantains”

  1. Debbie says:

    Hey Jenny,
    That looks delicious. Where do you buy boxed tomatoes? I read recently that canned tomatoes are bad for you (something about the lining of the can leaching into the tomatoes due to the acid in the tomatoes) but I didn’t know you could get them in a box. Do tell.

  2. Thanks for your blog. I’m excited to see all the recipes you come up with. I love your challenge!

  3. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog!
    Your meal looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it! Love the way you photograph each step of the recipe!

  4. Yum! We love plantains — my son gets the sweet fried ones every time we go to our local Mexican restaurant — but I rarely cook them at home. Will have to give this recipe a try sometime.

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