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Roasted Plantains w/ Cajeta & Pecans

Plantains are a bit of a wonder to me.  They look like bananas...they're even called plátano macho (large banana)...but that's about as far as the similarities go.  They're pleasantly meaty and starchy, resembling the taste and texture of a root vegetable. And I enjoy them.

But until now, I've only ever fried them.  Whether cut into rounds and fried once then smashed and fried again to make tostones or cut lengthwise and handled the same way to make the "bread" for jibaritos.  For this method, green plantains are usually used.  Or my favorite way which is to just slice them fairly thin on the bias and fry them once for one of my favorite desserts (put them hot from the oil on top of vanilla ice cream and drizzle with sweetened condensed milk).  But for those we use ripe (black) plantains.
This recipe calls for roasting the plantains.  And doing it when they are about as ripe as they'll get.  The blacker they are, the sweeter they are.  But even that isn't sweet like you'd normally think of sweet - just sweet for a plantain.

The crazy thing I noticed about roasting them, though?  The scent!  It's intoxicatingly musky like a vanilla bean on steroids.  If only I had known this before I started making this for dessert.  I would have taken the time to make my own cajeta, adding the seeds from a couple of vanilla beans while reducing the goat's milk.  Fortunately this will not be my last time making them, so that plan is on for the future!

If you enjoy desserts that aren't too sweet, you'd dig this one.  The sugar in this dessert comes from the amber drizzle of cajeta, but that rich sweetness is dampered by the toasted nuts and those oddly addicting roasted, earthy chunks of plantain.

Roasted Plantains w/ Cajeta & Pecans

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: roast dessert vegetarian caramel nuts plantains Mexican

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 4 small/medium plantains (black-ripe)
  • ~3 oz. (~1 c.) pecan halves or pieces (or use walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts)
  • ~½ c. cajeta (goat's milk caramel)
Preheat oven to 450° F.

Cut pointed ends off of each plantain, exposing just a bit of the flesh. Make a shallow slit through the skinn on the inner (curved) side of each plantain. Lay on a baking sheet. Roast until completely soft, ~20 minutes.

In the meantime, toast the nuts in an ungreased skillet over medium-low heat until toasty and fragrant. Set aside. Heat the cajeta in the microwave or gently in a small saucepan over low heat.

When plantains are finished roasting, remove from oven. When they've cooled down just a bit...enough to handle...peel back the skin and slice into ~½" chunks. Pile into a mound on top of the skin on a serving plate. Drizzle with cajeta and sprinkle with toasted nuts.

slightly adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
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