I've always liked plantain chips. The fruit's inherent sweetness is a natural fit for the fryer, giving the resulting snack far more interest than plain old salty potatoes. Bryant Terry's plantain chips in his new cookbook, Afro-Vegan, are even better. He fries thin slices of green plantains in coconut oil (yes, it's expensive, but worth it), and then immediately coats the hot chips with a flurry of fiery creole spice. The lingering oil fuses the spice to the plantains, making sure that every bite gets a burst of heat.
Why I picked this recipe: Plantain chips are one of my favorite snacks. Add a spicy topping, and I'm in heaven.
What worked: Consider me devoted to the combination of plantains and creole spice.
What didn't: It took me longer than 1 minute of frying for the plantains to brown and crisp. Plan for an extra minute or two.
Suggested tweaks: Make sure you're using refined coconut oil for frying, as it has a higher smoke point than the unrefined version. I'd suggest keeping the first batches of chips warm in a 200-degree oven while you fry the remaining plantains. If you don't keep brown paper bags around the house, you can toss the plantains in the spice mix in a large bowl, working quickly to prevent the spices from clumping.
Reprinted with permission from Afro-Vega: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- Creole Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 large green plantains (about 2 pounds)
- 1/4 cup Creole spice blend
- Coconut or sunflower oil, for deep frying (about 5 cups)
To make the Creole spice blend: Combine all the ingredients in a mortar or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. You will need 1/4 cup for this recipe; store the remainder in an airtight jar. Stored at room temperature, it will keep for 6 months.
To make the chips: Cut off both ends of each plantain. With the tip of a sharp knife, slice the peel along the length of each plantain, avoiding cutting into the flesh. Repeat this in three different places on each plantain. Gently remove each section of peel. (Compost the peels and tips.) If the peels are difficult to remove, soak the plantains in hot water for a few minutes. Just be sure to dry them well with a clean kitchen towel before frying, to prevent splattering. With a sharp knife or a mandoline, slice each plantain as thinly as possible into rounds, ideally about 1/16 inch thick, keeping the slices of each plantain separate.
Put 1 tablespoon of the spice blend in a small paper bag. Line a plate with paper towels.
Warm about 2 inches of oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, about 375°F. Fry the slices of 1 plantain at a time, moving them around with a fork to ensure even cooking, until golden, about 1 minute. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, immediately transfer the slices to the paper bag with the spice mixture. Fold the top to seal, then shake vigorously to evenly coat. Transfer to the lined plate. Repeat this process with the remaining plantains and spice blend. Serve while they are hot and crispy.