Chicken with Sweet Plantains.
Trust me, you need to stop whatever you are doing right now and go buy plantains.
This recipe comes from Melissa Clark of the New York Times and was featured in the Taste section of my local paper last week. When I saw the plantains, I knew I had to make this recipe.
Plantains are relatives of the banana but unlike bananas, plantains must be cooked before you can eat them. They’re slightly more starchy and much less sweet than bananas.
I always order plantains at restaurants but have never made them at home before. Let me just warn you…if you like plantains, buy at least one extra when you’re making this dish because you WILL want to stand at the stove and eat those little fried plantain discs right out of the pan.
I’m serious. Buy an extra.
Along with the much lauded plantains, this recipe gives you amazingly tender, flavorful chicken in a lovely olive studded, tomato broth.
Here’s what you need:
Chicken, Plantains, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Garlic, Oranges, Lime, Cilantro (optional), Diced Tomatoes, Green Olives, Ground Cumin, Chili Powder, Oregano, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.
Plan ahead alert! This chicken needs to marinate in the spice rub for at least 2 hours (the longer, the better) so plan ahead. Mine rested about 5 hours. You can even do this the evening before and let it marinate overnight in the fridge.
In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder,
2 teaspoons oregano, 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste), and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
Use a microplane or other small grater to remove the zest from 1/2 a large orange (about 2 teaspoons) and 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon) and add the zest to the bowl.
Stir the spice rub to combine all of the ingredients then use your hands to rub it liberally all over the chicken.
Speaking of chicken, I have 1 whole cut up fryer (2 breast halves, 2 thighs, and 2 legs) but you could use any parts. Plan on about 3-4 pounds of chicken pieces, bone in, skin on.
(I took the skin off the thighs and the flavor was fine, just not as intense as the pieces with the skin on. You know what a chicken skin weirdo I can be…)
If you get the cut up fryer, save those wings and back in a freezer bag for making chicken stock.
Chop up 1 large onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 3 cloves of garlic.
Squeeze the orange you zested and then another half to whole orange to make 2/3 cup of fresh orange juice.
Let’s talk about those plantains. YES, they’re supposed to be all black and ugly looking. When I bought these in the store they were about 50/50 yellow and black. Skip the green ones or pale yellow ones…they’re not ripe yet. A ripe plantain is a sweet plantain.
Surprisingly, they are not mushy inside like an overly ripe black banana. And, they hold up when cooking because of their extra fiber and starch.
So, even though everyone in the store will think you’re totally nuts, grab 2 of the ugly almost all black plantains.
Rather than peeling them like a banana, it is easier to cut off both ends and gently use a sharp knife to split the skin open down the side of the fruit so you can peel it away. Once peeled, cut the plantains into ½ inch discs.
Grab a large pot or dutch oven and heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides.
Work in batches if you need to so you don’t crowd the pan. Add a bit more olive oil to the pan with each batch if the pan is dry.
Once the chicken pieces have browned, remove them to a plate or bowl.
Turn the heat down to medium and add 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the plantains in a single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
Remove the cooked plantains to a bowl (working again in batches if you need to) and try not to eat them all before you get the recipe put together.
Honestly, trust me and just go ahead and buy a spare plantain and save yourself and those you love the suffering.
Add 1 more Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan if it is dry and sauté the chopped onions and peppers until soft and golden, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the chopped garlic and the remaining 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and sauté for 1 minute.
Pour in the freshly squeezed orange juice, 2 (14 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes and their juices,
and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine.
Return the chicken pieces to the pot and nestle them down in the sauce. Add the browned plantains on top.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes.
Once the chicken is tender and cooked through, add 1/2 cup of sliced green olives and the juice of 1 lime.
Season to taste with salt & pepper.
I served my chicken with sweet plantains with a little side of yellow, saffron rice to catch all that delicious sauce.
We’ve got some big flavors going on in a pretty simple dish. The plantains in this recipe have totally converted me from only ordering them in restaurants to trying to figure out what else I can serve with some nice fried plantains.
The answer? Practically everything!
Here’s the recipe – Adapted from Melissa Clark/New York Times