Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tostones and green sauce and steak, oh my!

Any of my friends know that I love, and I mean L O V E Central/South American food. I don't know that I have a true preference; if it's south of the border (or from a Hispanic island) I want it. It doesn't matter if it's bougie food, street food or all points in between, I like and I want it. Recently, we've discovered a Dominican/Puerto Rican restaurant not too far from us. I'm ashamed to admit my addiction to this place; well, only slightly ashamed.

I've found even more foods that I love, so of course I have to figure out how to make it myself. One of the things that I've learned to use in a much more versatile way is plantain. We have a group of African friends that introduced us to plantain years ago. Their version is frying a ripe plantain and then lightly salting the delicious sweet nuggets. I was a bit skeptical when I heard that the folks in the islands use plantains in their green form-- yikes! But then I ate it, and how quickly my tune changed. The difference between a green plantain and a black plantain are worlds apart. A green plantain can be seasoned with garlic and salt and so many wonderful things, even fried as a patty and used as a bread replacement! I was so excited when I realized that I could chow down on a burger and use plantain as bread!! For one who is largely trying to avoid grains, this was a revelation.

 I had a great flank steak in my fridge that I needed to use.I had a plan when I bought it, and this preparation wasn't it. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to season it up in my favorite herbs and spices. So that's what I'm going to do! I decided to marinate the meat this afternoon, fry up some tostones, and create my own form of nachos. I hope you gain some inspiration to cook up something delicious!!

For the marinade: 
handful of cilantro (I used probably close to a cup, but what's a measuring cup again?!)
couple chugs of olive oil (maybe 1/2 cup)
3 or 4 cloves of garlic salt to taste
juice of 1 lime
Whir this together in your food processor/magic bullet, etc. It'll be a green saucy beauty, and you'll want to eat it all as is. But don't. Just save a little. Trust me on this, you're going to want to let this sit. It gets better the longer it sits. ;-)
Marinate the meat as long as you can. Mine sat about 4 hours.

If you are interested in making tostones,  I'm going to burst my own bubble and say that I'm not Hispanic,so I can't exactly call myself authentic. But I can read about how to make tostones, so in theory I can make tostones. To do that you simply cut up some green plantain and fry them. I use coconut oil to do this. Fry them until golden, and then smash them. Like this:

As you can see in the background, I flipped around my handy-dandy meat tenderizer and used the flat side to smash them. But word on the street has it that there are legitimate tostone smasher thingies out there... just sayin'. Then you fry them again.

Back to the meat!! I sliced the meat into 1-inch strips and sauteed them off in a cast iron skillet over med-high to high heat, or until the meat is cooked to your preference. In the end I used the tostones as a nacho type base, topping with the amazing steak, chopped tomatoes, avocado, lettuce and some of that green sauce that I kept to the side. See, I told you saving a little was a good idea.

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