Nelson Millán, Executive Chef of San Antonio CC, wanted to make his plantain chips more user-friendly so he experimented with a new idea that not only solved his problems but expanded his menu’s possibilities.
As many of you know, I was born and raised on the beautiful Island of Puerto Rico. Here, I grew up enjoying plantains—a starchy member of the banana family usually used in savory dishes—as part of a basic basket of ingredients. For years I was instructed by my mom and grandma that in order to be able to process and eat specifically green plantains I needed to peel them because the skin is not edible.
As the Executive Chef of San Antonio (Texas) Country Club, I’ve been including plantains on my menus in an array of applications for years. One way I feature them is as chips which I utilize as a base to top with other products for passed hors d,oeuvres. But I always struggled with the fact that they usually fry very flat and once you top them with the desired ingredient, it’s difficult to pick them up from the platter to enjoy.
The other day I was curious about what would happen if I cut thin slices of a green plantain with the skin on a bias and fried them. I discovered a few of things on doing so.
- First, because of the pressure of the outer skin, each slice created a consistent “warping” concavity—like a little boat.
- Second, once I fried them, the natural concavity got even more pronounced creating a nice and sturdy mini bowl ready to be filled with any ingredient and with an even more beautiful golden brown edge/frame from the fried skin.
- Third, my members will have an easier time pick them up from the platter with no struggle.
- Fourth, that so-feared “non-edible skin” was actually crispy, exquisite and completely edible.
As Chefs, we get amused with simplicity and the discovery of a new technique or ways to process ingredients, no matter how small and insignificant they might be. After all of these years of “fear” and misinformation (thanks, mom and grandma) I finally crossed a boundaries inherent in my own tradition and culture. I ended up with a “plantain epiphany” and discovered multiple benefits and conveniences from slicing the green plantains with the skin still attached. I also found a solution to years of struggles with this particular application for green plantains.
Now at the San Antonio CC, we are able to mass produce them for any size events using a mandolin and it has become one of the preferred and fun items for the staff to produce as well as for the members to enjoy. It is my hope that you can benefit from this “epiphany” as well, to offer a different option for your members when passing hors d’oeuvres.