Do you remember the saying “we’re all unique”? You need to know other cultures to understand and appreciate your own. This is a lesson that has taken me years to learn, and by learning about other countries’ foods I have understood ours better, and what makes it unique, even if ultimately it is something that is shared with other countries. In the end, it’s the sum of its parts that makes it “unique”.
Try these Plátanos al Caldero (Caramelized Ripe Plantains) and you’ll find something that is both unique to the Dominican Republic and shared with a lot of countries.
We are not the only country with a penchant for mixing sweet and savory in our meals. In fact, Danes serve a similar dish to this one, made with summer potatoes, which are served caramelized. It adds a touch of sweet to the Danish meal, although more discreet as potatoes are not as sweet as ripe plantains.
Several Asian countries add sugar or fruits to their foods in an attempt to tame the fiercely spicy flavors in their cooking. And, of course, we must mention that both Puerto Rico and Cuba also serve ripe plantains with their meals.
But if you didn’t read all of the above you would suspect we misplaced this recipe and put it with the side dishes instead of the desserts.
No, it wasn’t a mistake. As a matter of fact, this is a favorite Dominican side dish. Sure, Dominicans might have overdone it a bit on the sweet side with this one, but this really is a crowd-pleaser and for a reason.
The twist to my plátanos maduros al caldero (caramelized plantains) is rum.
These are grown-up plantains, but if you want to serve them to children or anyone who would object to the rum, feel free to leave it out.
Try it, I assure you that you’ll like it. 10 million people can’t be wrong.
- 2 very ripe plantains (see notes)
- 4 cinnamon sticks cut into 1" pieces
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- 1 cup of water
- 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons of rum (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
Peel the plantains and cut into halves.
Stick the cinnamon into the plantains.
In a skillet heat the oil over medium heat, add the plantains and fry and rotate until golden brown all around.
In a separate container mix water, sugar, rum, and salt.
Pour this mix into the frying pan (careful with splatters!).
Lower the heat and cook and rotate until the liquid turn into syrup left and 2/3 has evaporated.
Your plantains MUST be very ripe for this to work. The peel should be almost black and the plantain a bit mushy when you squeeze it.
Don't eat the cinnamon sticks, just eat around them.