Plantain

Tigrillo

Tigrillo

When a friend recently suggested that I do a breakfast post I could feel my eyes get wide as the ideas, one after another, started bouncing around my head.  Breakfast post?!  No problem!  Who doesn’t love breakfast?  Actually…me.  It’s only been lately, that I’ve started to regularly sit down and enjoy this all important meal in the actual hours that it is meant to be enjoyed.  And I must say, it’s a game changer.  It’s not like I had anything against the actual foods.  Let’s be honest, breakfast food is awesome but just because you are enjoying breakfast food doesn’t mean you are eating breakfast.  Breakfast is a meal that you have to get up a little early for to prepare – possibly using the stove, and is eaten off of a plate, before you put your shoes on.  And even though it has taken me quite a while to understand breakfast and how it works, I’m sure glad that I’ve finally semi-mastered the routine…most days.

For my first breakfast post I’ve picked an Ecuadorian classic, tigrillo, which is a type of breakfast hash made with green plantain, quesillo or queso fresco and eggs.  I just adore tigrillo!  One reason is because it has one of my fave ingredients, plantains.  In my brief blogging life, this is the second recipe I’ve presented with plantains (platano) and I know it won’t be the last.  They’re just such a healthy, satisfying, fill my belly up with goodness kind of ingredient.  Hopefully you can come to appreciate them like I have!  This recipe calls for green plantains (platano verde) but if you can’t find them where you live, try substituting very green bananas and don’t forget to let me know how it goes!

Another reason I adore tigrillo is because of it’s endurance!  It’s a great combo of good carbs, protein and in my version, healthy fats.  This plate will fill you up and keep you going for a while so if you’re planning a hike or a bike ride or just a really long morning running errands and don’t know where your next meal will come from, tigrillo is for you.  Speaking of healthy fats, I am a big fan of the butter/coconut oil combination, especially in this recipe.  The coconut oil just does such a great job bringing out some natural sweetness in the onions and the butter helps to brown and crisp everything just right.   However, using just coconut oil would work too.

Another interesting ingredient in my version of tigrillo is quesillo.  You’ve probably heard of queso fresco but have you ever heard of quesillo?  Quesillo is also a fresh homemade cheese available in Ecuadorian markets and shops.  The main difference between quesillo and queso fresco is that quesillo does not have any salt, that and it’s usually even fresher than queso fresco.  Quesillo is a great option for those looking to be in charge of either the amount of salt used in a recipe or the kind of salt used.  As always, when dealing with fresh ingredients, try to get to know a little about the product and the vendor in order to buy from a trusted source.

Buen Provecho!

Tigrillo

TIGRILLO
2 green plantains
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 large organic eggs, beaten
1 chunk (about a half cup) quesillo or queso fresco
sea salt

Start by boiling a large pot of salted water.  Next peel the plantains under cold running water.  Chop both plantains into 1 inch chunks and add to the pot of salted boiling water.  Leave the plantains to boil for 20 minutes or until mashable with the back of a fork.  In the mean time, add the butter and coconut oil to a large heavy frying pan.  Melt and swirl the butter and coconut oil together over a high flame.  Lower the flame a little and add the chopped onion to the frying pan and cook until very soft and translucent.  Add a couple of pinches of sea salt.  Once the plantains are soft, remove from the water, place on a plastic cutting board and get to mashing until there are no more chunks, just a crumbly plantain meal.  Add the plantain to the frying pan and mix thoroughly into the onion mixture.  Make sure the plantain is well coated with oil and continue to cook a couple more minutes until the plantain is lightly browned.  Off to the side and in a seperate container add the quesillo to the beaten eggs and wisk thoroughly.  Once the plantain is lightly browned, add the egg mixture to the planain mixture.  Turn the heat to high and start flipping and mixing the two mixtures together in the pan until the eggs are completely cooked.  Serve piping hot, garnished with a little green onion and quesillo on the side.

Makes 2 large portions or 4 side dish sized portions.

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Baked Ripe Plantain with a Miel de Caña and Orange Drizzle

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I’m not much of a baker.  I think it’s probably for two reasons.  One, I cannot follow a recipe to save my life.  It’s a very real problem.  Even when I try to force myself, I just can’t.  Two, the changes I always want to make are healthy changes.  Sugarless quinoa and avocado cookies anyone…anyone?  So, long story short, when someone asks me to bring a dessert I usually say, “can I just bring a salad”?

Here’s the dilemma.  I LOVE sweet stuff!  I love sweet, starchy, ooey, gooey, warm and saucy desserts!  If it’s a special occasion, it’s just a bite or two of a sweet (usually chocolately) indulgence that I crave to cap off the meal perfectly.  But on a regular day I like to stick to healthy whole foods.  A baked plantain is the answer.

Biting into a ripe baked plantain is like taking a bite of warm banana custard.  It’s crispy and carmelized on the outside and sweet and silky on the inside, all the while maintaining it’s structure to have something to bite into.  And since it does that with just the help of an oven, well, it’s the ultimate whole food dessert if you ask me!  Even though I regularly enjoy a baked plantain all on it’s own, saucing it up with just a few more clean ingredients will take the decadence up a notch!

The sauce for this recipe has only four ingredients but when they come together it is a real pop of flavor.  Miel de caña is something that I’m just recently allowing myseld to keep at home.  Why?  Because it is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  It is the fine wine of natural sweeteners and since it reminds me of wine, well, I was just a little scared that at some point I’d end up putting it in a glass and drinking it.  But so far, no such incidents.  Miel de caña is technically molasses.  I haven’t tasted or cooked with molasses in years but I just don’t remember it being as complex and having the florally and citrusy notes that the miel de caña of Ecuador does.  At any rate, if you are looking for a substitute I’d suggest light, unsulphured molasses and as usual, please let me know how it goes.  If you are living in South America, please don’t hestitate to start incorporating this awesome indgredient in your recipes!  I’d love to hear from you and all your creative ideas for miel de caña too!

IMG_1846 (3)IMG_1865 (6)1/4 cup miel de caña (sugar cane honey) or molasses
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 ripe plantain
coconut oil or butter

Start by wisking together the first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan.  Move the saucepan to a medium flame and stir frequently as the sauce comes to a boil.  Once the sauce has reached a boil, turn the flame to low and stir frequently for 12-15 minutes.  The sauce will reduce down to about 1/2 cup.  Remove the sauce from the flame and transfer to a glass storage container.  Allow to cool.  Once the sauce has cooled down, add the chia seeds and cover with a lid.  Give the sauce a little bit of a shake and place in the refigerator to let the chia do their chia thing.  Keep the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the roasted plantain, first preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Then cut off each end of a ripe plantain and remove the peel.  Quarter the plantain and brush with a little bit of coconut oil or butter.  Bake the plantain on foil which has been placed directly on the oven rack.  Bake the plantain for 25 minutes or until it starts to get dark and crispy around the edges.  Serve the plantain warm with a drizzle of miel de caña sauce.

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