|Prep Time:||Less than 1 hr|
These warm crispy bites of sweet mashed plantain stuffed with a seasoned filling are a typical Puerto Rican comfort food that can be eaten as a quick on the go meal (this is a star item at any cuchifrito stand), a snack, an appetizer, or as a side dish.
Relleno de platanos are typically filled with a picadillo, a seasoned ground meat. I've included a traditional picadillo filling in this recipe, should you decide to go the traditional route. If not, you can stuff the mashed plantains with practically anything your imagination comes up with cheese, chorizo, chicken, beans, seafood, stewed veggies.
The key to your success in making an irresistable relleno de platano is using ultraripe plantains, so black and soft and sweet that you think you should throw them out. As with bananas, underripe plantains ripen more quickly when placed in a paper bag.
The great thing about this dish is that it can be made ahead of time. If you do decide to make this ahead of time, make sure to carefully cover or place the relleno de platanos in a container before placing them in the refrigerator or freezer. After that, the only thing you have to do is to allow the plantain balls to come to room temperature before frying.
4 very ripe (almost black), unpeeled soft plantains, rinsed (2 1/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon adobo
1 tablespoon sofrito
approximately 2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch (typical for cornstarch to be used) for plantain mixture
1/2 cup prepared/cooked filling of your choice
cornstarch or flour for coating stuffed balls
1 quart oil of your preference, for frying
1/2 pound of ground meat of your preference
2 tablespoons tocino (salt pork) (optional), finely chopped, fried crunchy
1/4 cup jamón de cocinar (cooking ham) (optional), finely chopped
2 tablespoons sofrito
1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 packet Sazon with achiote
1/2 teaspoon of salt or adobo
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 large green spanish style stuffed olives, chopped
1 teaspoon capers
- Cook meat of your preference thoroughly in skillet.
- Add remaining ingredients.
- Stir well.
- Simmer over medium heat covered for 15 minutes.
- Taste and reseason if necessary. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Add plantains.
- Cook over moderately high heat until skins split and plantains are very tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer to plate and let cool slightly.
- Peel plantains.
- Transfer to bowl and mash well.
- Thoroughly mix in adobo and sofrito.
- Slowly and thoroughly mix in JUST enough flour or cornstarch that the plantain mixture is somewhat manageable and no longer sticky.
- Line a platter with plastic wrap.
- Form the plantain dough into 12 portions and roll into balls.
- Poke a hole in the center of each ball using your thumb and fill it with 1 teaspoon of filling of your choice.
- Seal the holes and reroll the dough into balls.
- Roll the balls in flour or cornstarch to coat (some people also roll it in egg and then in flour)
- In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to 350° fahrenheit or until oil vigorously bubbles around a wooden spoon when the end is inserted in the oil.
- Carefully place plantain balls into oil (do not crowd the pan).
- Fry until a light golden brown all over, about 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye, these brown very quickly!
- Drain on a paper towel–lined plate.