Is there any dish more deliciously Caribbean Latino than a crunchy-sweet side of caramelized maduros—super-ripe plantain golden-browned on both sides?
Yeah, I can’t think of anything either.
Plantains are at the cooking corazón of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and many other Caribbean-bordering tropical nations in Central and South America.
Maduro means ripe, and maduros are made from plantains so ripe, their peel is deep yellow and halfway to black. (But not all the way black: that’s too ripe.) Fresh, bright-green plantains won’t work for maduros: save those for crunchy tostones: fried plantain fritters.
How to Buy and Slice Plantains for Maduros
When buying plantains, you have two choices when making maduros:
1) Buy GREEN and wait for a week or two until they are deeply yellow with just a few black spots.
2) Buy YELLOW with a black spot or two—and cook them almost immediately. If they are all black, it’s too late. Too mushy.
To peel, slice a thin sliver off the top stem end and the bottom of each plantain. Then peel the plátano like a banana. It will be easy to remove.
Now, cut the plantain into thirds on the diagonal. Slicing each fat chunk on the bias creates more area for each plantain tip to touch your pan so it will sizzle in more places—creating more golden texture.
Important: Don’t slice plantains too thin. They will burn quickly and dry out when fried. The goal is thick, 3- to 4-inch-long chunks to get that caramelized gold on the outside and juicy deliciousness on the inside.