As the World Cup is coming to an end, I would like to present you with the perfect dish to round off my tour of all the participating nations: grilled plantains.
Brazil is famous for its rodízios, the ‘all-you-can-eat-type restaurants where waiters come round to the tables with skewers full of meat. To pay homage to the host nation I decided on a barbecued dish – but like the host nation, I did not go all the way but settled on a dessert instead.
The one country that has eluded me due to their use of a wide range of exotic fruit and vegetables is Ghana. But one of the staples of Ghanaian cuisine are plantains, a type of banana which is also fund in Brazil, as well as in Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.
Plantains can be boiled, fried, ground and steamed to create a variety of dishes and accompaniments. They are generally eaten cooked, whereas Europeans prefer bananas that are consumed raw. Because they bear fruit all year round, plantains are a vital source of starch in those countries where they grow. They are sold (and used) at three different stages of ripeness, which make them suitable for different dishes:
The green, unripe plantain needs to be cooked or fried, in taste and texture it resembles potatoes or similar starchy foods. You will need to remove the skin with a knife as it doesn’t come off naturally.
The yellow skin of the mature plantain resembles that of the banana, but although you can eat it raw its taste is not quite as sweet. They taste delicious fried and make for an interesting alternative to potatoes or chips – I used them to accompany my Chicken DG.
The darker they get the sweeter their taste, and I used very ripe plantains for this Ghana-inspired dessert: grilled in their own skin and sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. The perfect dish to round off a world cup or, indeed, a barbecue.
Grilled Sweet Plantains (serves 4-6)
Step 1: Cut along the length of two plantains, as deep as you can without cutting through the skin on the other side. Open them up with your hands to fill them with a mix of sugar and cinnamon. I used about 2 tbs sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon for two very dark plantains.
Step 2: Wrap them in tinfoil: take care to close the foil so that the juices can’t escape!
Step 3: Grill over the remaining embers of your barbecue for 10-20 minutes – the length of the grilling depends on the heat of the grill. You can tell when they’re cooked by opening up the fruit: it is perfect when it is a glowing orange rather than the pale yellow of the raw fruit.
Step 4: Serve and devour. All that’s missing here is some vanilla ice cream or dark chocolate sauce. Or both…