For Mature Taste Buds Only: Guac with Baked Plantain Chips

I sent out a feeler about this recipe and got a couple of people tell me they would skip the guac and take the plantain chips. Skip the guac? You gotta be kiddin’ me! Well, I’ll be the first to admit that avocado iddn’t for the immature pallet. In fact, when I was a youngster, I used to think that avocado tasted like hand lotion. I thought that for years – like my whole teenage years. Then one day, I dared to try it again and guess what! I liked it. In fact, I like it so dang much it’s become one of my all-time favorite veggytables. That’s great in that it’s so healthy and all. Nutritious people say we oughta eat an avocado a week for general health and that it’s especially good for women – something about keeping our hormones in balance. On the flip side, it is one of the more higher calorie veggies, so though I don’t necessarily think you gotta limit yurself to one a week, you might not want to eat one a day! 


Girls, do yurself a favor and if you haven’t tried avocado in a while – like since you were 12 – give it another try. But if you don’t like onions and garlic, this wouldn’t be the way to try it again. If you got some real simple tastes, start by slicing up avocado on a burger or a turkey sandwich. See if you like it that way and if you do, then you can venture out to adding it to potato dishes – avocado and potato is mmm, mmm good! – and with lentils or other beans, to yur nachos, burritos, tacos and taquitos and the like. Then one day you’ll be ready for this here recipe which is a one for mature taste buds because it’s got a whole lotta grown up tastes in it and it is mighty powerful tasty! If yur not there yet, go ahead and try the plantain chip portion of this here recipe because, well, dudn’t everbody love chips?


Just one last word a caution before we dig in: Don’t just go makin this recipe on a whim! Don’t you dare go out and pay a dollar a piece for an avocado! Ever time you pass the produce section, shoot a sideways glance over at them avocados and see what they cost. When you see em on special – say 60 cents a piece or even 50 cents a piece, well, that’s the time to buy. Avocados don’t really have a season per se that I can figure – we get a lot of em from Mexico where seasons are all mixed up from what we know. Far as I can tell, the price just depends on that old supply and demand thing. So when supply is up and demand is down, the price’ll drop and that’s when you make yur move! 


One last note about the logistics of this recipe: It only calls for ½ an avocado and ½ a tomato. So…whaddya think? Can you handle eatin’ it again in about three days time? That ripe avocado stored in its peel, coated with a little lemon juice and in a ziplock baggie will last a few more days in the fridge. When you pull it out for the second use, it might be a funky color on the top, but take a spoon and lightly skim off that ugliness and underneath’ll be yur pristine green again. Yur gonna need to go to the store to get another plantain though, you can’t keep a plantain from going ripe in three days time and you need a green plantain.

 

– ½ of a ripe avocado

– One clove garlic

– One tablespoon red onion

– Juice of one-quarter of a small lime

– Squirt of lemon juice

– Salt & Pepper

– Two tablespoons chopped cilantro

– ½ tomato, or one Roma tomato

– Cooking spray

– One Green Plantain

 

First things first, We’re gonna get that plantain in the oven before we make the guac. Crank up that oven to 400 degrees and coat a cookie sheet with cookin spray. 


Now, did ya notice I said “green plantain”? What’s that? You don’t know what a plantain is? Ever see those goofy-looking large bananas in the produce section that aren’t next to all the rest of the bananas? They sell em individually, not in bunches like the others. Plantains can be eaten when they’re green or when they’re yellow. If you want it to taste like a potato chip, you gotta eat it when it’s green. If you want it to taste like dessert, eat it when it’s yellow. The trick for this recipe is to get it while it’s green and use it before it goes yellow. That means if you shop for the avocado and the plantain at the same time, you gotta get a ripe avocado and an unripe plantain. If you get an unripe avocado and an unripe plantain, by the time yur avocado is ripe, yur plantain will be ripe too and that’s bad. You can’t make chips with a mushy plantain. So if an unripe plantain is green, what’s a ripe avocado? Well, glad you asked. The outside of the avocado won’t look any different, you can only tell a ripe avocado by squeezin it. To get ya a nice ripe avocado, you wanna be able to sink your finger or thumb into it as if it were play-dough. If it won’t give like play-dough, it iddn’t ready. Sometimes, all you can find is unripe avocados, but my experience is that when they’re on sale like I told you to look for, it’s because the store’s gotta bunch a ripe ones they need to unload in a hurry. In that case, be sure not to get one that’s too ripe – mushy like. Like nanners, avocados got a critical window for consumption – just a coupla good days that they’re just right to eat. If you wait too late, they start turning unsavory colors on ya and tastin’ nasty.


OK, where were we? Oven’s on, and yur holding an unripe green plantain. Take a pairing knife and cit off the top and bottom of that plantain. Now run cut the plantain right in half. Run yur knife down the edge of that plantain, just enough to go through the skin and then peel back that skin. If little bits of skin stick to the plantain, just pick ‘em off. Now you need a cheese grater that has one of those grates that’s about an inch wide – some are two or even more inches wide – that really big slot in the grater that you thought, “What the heck would I ever use this for?” Well, for plantains for one! This is gonna take some practice, so don’t beat yurself up if yur not an expert the first time. Slide the plantain down that large grate and what yur going for is a long, thin (as wide as yur plantain) strip a plantain. Did you get one? Good! Pick it up carefully and move it over to yur cookie sheet. Keep at it until you’ve grated that whole dang plantain into thin strips. These strips need to be about ¼ inch thick at most. Like I said, it takes some practice. If you don’t have a grater such as I’m describing, you got two options: cut your plantain into 1/4 –inch thick rounds and you’ll just have some tiny chips, but that’s OK. Or, you can try cutting those long, thin strips with a knife, holding the plantain up on its end at the top and trying to cut downward with a sharp pairing knife. Good luck with that. Remember my pledge not to throw anything at ya harder than flippin pancakes? Well, the first time you flipped a pancake were you an expert at it? This iddn’t no harder, it’s just gonna take a little time to perfect, like the pancake flip.


At this point, you’ve got a cookie sheet full of various and sundry sizes and shapes of plantain pieces, right? Now take that cooking spray and shoot a shot of it on the tops each of your plantain chips. Stick that in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. When it goes off, peek at the plantains. Some of them might be ready to take out – they’re looking crispy on the edges. Some might need a few more minutes. For those, I recommend flippin em before you give em 5 more minutes in the oven. 


Once you put those plantains in the oven (the first time, I mean), cut your ripe avocado length-wise down the center and pop that avocado in half. Then take out that big pit – just grab a hold of it and pull it out of there. Scoop out the avocado from its peel with a spoon and put it into a small mixing bowl. Now mush it up with a fork to creamy, though still a little lumpy. Next, squirt it with the lemon and lime juice and mix it in real good. Ya know, if ya don’t wanna spring for both a lemon and a lime, you could just use one, but it’s better with both. You could use those juices you find in those funny little plastic lemons and limes. Those keep forever in the fridge, so if the store’s wantin to charge ya an arm and a leg for a tiny citrus fruit, you just go ahead and getcha one of those little plastic fruits.


Take that garlic clove, peal it and press it in yur garlic press – what? No garlic press. Put that on yur Wal-Mart list for when you come into an extra coupla dollars. If you love garlic, a press is mighty useful. Too much work ya say? Well, you could buy that already minced garlic in a jar. I saw it once at the dollar store – that’s a decent buy. If yur using the already minced kind, scoop out a generous half-teaspoon. Now cut up your red onion – you got red onion didn’t ya? White or yellow will do in a pinch, but it just dudnt’ compare to the taste of red. Put the rest of that red onion in the fridge in a ziplock baggie and it’ll stay good for ya for a coupla weeks. Try it with some spinach salad, in some soups, sautéed over a veggie burger, yadda yadda. Oh, so yur cuttin’ that red onion up real small, right? Throw in yur salt’n pepper to taste and mix that guac up.

Now wash and chop ya up some cilantro. What? What’s cilantro? Well, seems to me before all the Mexican immigration, it used to be called coriander or something like that. Now it’s cilantro and if you keep an open mind about it you might just see why the Mexicans love it. It’s the cheapest herb in yur supermarket and it’ll keep about a week in the veggie bin – longer if you have one of those life-prolonging produce bags. 


Throw the cilantro in the mix and chop up yur half mater, er um, I mean tomato, and toss that in the mix. Now just gently fold that cilantro and mater in, so it looks all poetic-like. 


By this time, yur plantain chips oughta be about done, or at least ready to flip. When they are done, salt em like you would French fries, and let em cool about a minute on the cookie sheet. 

OK, time to chow! Those plantain chips’re kinda fragile, so support ‘em from underneath while yur scooping yur quac. 

Whaddya think? Now that’s some complex flavor! Like I said, not for the young ones! Oh, and not date food either. That garlic’ll be with ya all day!


Say, if you like those chips, I’ll throw another recipe at ya in the comin’ months on how to make something called patacones – a favorite in my old stomping grounds of Ecuador.

 

 

 

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