Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tostones filled with Cuban Pork Roast

Every now and then I make something that knocks my socks off. Maybe it's because I sometimes just wing it in the kitchen and perhaps it's because I'm trying new ingredients and don't know what to expect. But I just love it when it happens.

A few days ago I was checking out the new post at Modern Paleo Warfare and was completely inspired to try out a new ingredient, plantains.  Now, I think that I have tried a plantain before but since I can't really remember what I did with it, I'm not going to count it.  So for all intents and purposes I'm saying that this is the first time I've used a plantain.

I had decided that I wanted to pair the plantains with pork and I wanted to do something a little Cuban or Caribbean inspired.  I also had come across a site selling tostones (fried plantains) presses.  One of the presses would make little cups and I found these totally cute so I had to try!

I'm pretty sure that tostones are my new favorite thing.  I can't get over the chip like quality they had after frying.  These will take care of a chip craving if you are having one.  They would be perfect for salsa if you want chips and dip.  Plantains aren't sweet like bananas are and are quite starchy.  Perfect for chips, right?!  The green plantains (which are unripe plantains) aren't sweet at all and are perfect for frying.  Heck, for all I know the black (ripe) ones may fry up well too.  A few days ago I had read about soaking the green plantains in salt water and then peeling them and slicing but I had forgot all of that by the time I went out today and purchase them.  I got home and sliced them in about 1 inch chunks and then scored the peel and pulled it off.  I didn't have any problem at all with removing the peel.  I'm not sure why those recipes said to soak them first.  Perhaps it was for flavor and not ease of peeling.  Anyway, I did not soak them because I was really wanting to get started.  To make the plantain chunks into cups I just put each chunk (after frying it first) into a well of a mini muffin pan and using a tart shaper I pressed down until I formed a little cup.  I took them out and put them back in the oil for the second fry.  *Note: I found it easier to press the plantain chunks into cup form while the chunks were still hot from frying.*  Alright, enough babbling!!  Let's get on with a photo and the recipe!

Tostones filled with Cuban Pork Roast

For the pork:
1-2 pounds of pork roast cut into chunks
1 small onion, diced
1T of garlic, diced
1/2 of a tiny bottle of white wine (93 mL)
2t. cumin
1t  mexican oregano, crush it in your palms when you add it to the pot
1/2t. smoked paprika
1/2 C orange juice
juice from half a lime
juice from half a lemon
zest of one lime
zest of one lemon
1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 can of coconut milk (I used the cream and not the watery part of my can)
salt and pepper to taste
1T. chopped cilantro
1-2T of FOC (I prefer bacon grease or lard)

1. Heat the fat of your choice in a dutch oven.  Once hot add the pork in batches and sear until browned.  Remove from the pot to a plate with a slotted spoon.
2.  Add the onion and garlic to the pot and saute until it starts to soften.  Add the wine to deglaze the pot.
3.  Add the pork back to the pot with the onion and garlic.  Add the cumin, mexican oregano and smoked paprika to the pot and stir.
4.  Add the orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, chicken stock and the zest to the pot.  Bring to boil and cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.
5.  Add the coconut cream and mix well.  Add salt and pepper. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes.
6.  Remove the lid and allow the mixture to cook at a fast simmer until most of the liquid evaporates and a thick sauce remains.
7.  Remove the chunks of meat with a slotted spoon to a cutting board.  Roughly chop the chunks to get a small bites of meat.  Add back to the sauce in the pot, add the cilantro and mix well to coat.

For the tostones:

3 unripe (green) plantains

1. Cut the plantains into 1 inch chunks (they should fit in the mini muffin well without sticking out the top).
2. When the fat/oil is hot, add the plantain chunks and fry until lightly golden.  Remove from grease to a paper towel.
3.  Place the fried plantain chunk into the muffin well and press down firmly with a tart shaper.  Remove the plantain cup and place it back in the oil for the second fry.
4.  Fry until they are a deep golden/lightly browned color and remove.
5.  Fill the tostones cups with the meat mixture and sprinkle with some extra cilantro and maybe a dab of fresh salsa or guacamole.

*I had plenty of meat leftover so you could buy a couple more plantains.
*Don't forget to press the plantain chunks while they are hot.  I found they pressed easier while hot.
*If you don't have Mexican Oregano don't worry about it.  However, please do not replace it with the old standard oregano.  They are completely different and you wouldn't want your Cuban feast to taste Italian would you?