Monday, September 28, 2015

Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)

Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)

Last time I travelled to New York, I fell in love with plantains. Head over heels. In every guise that I ate them. I have spent the two years since mourning their absence in my life. Hopefully checking out tales of plantain sightings in Perth from the definite to the more vague. None were fruitful (ha!) Then one day a few weeks ago, I walked into The Nanna Shop, and there they were in all their (at the time) green glory. I bought some without thinking. Without concern that I’d never pay $7.99 a kilo for bananas or potatoes – but here I was paying that for plantains. I finally could relive some of the dishes I had loved whilst travelling. I started with simple tostones – twice fried plantain chips. Just as crispy and salty and delicious as I remembered! Then I did a bit of a search for more plantain recipes both online and in my Cuban and Peruvian cookbooks. I came across a Dominican recipe for plantain gnocchi with a beef short rib ragu on the Saveur website. Not much one for the price of beef ribs, I decided to use that recipe as a flavour guideline and mix it up a little to make my life much easier by switching to a slow cooked blade roast. So no removal of bones, no straining the vegetables out of the sauce, everything just cooked and eaten together. It also meant changing the plantain gnocchi with yuca flour to mashed plantains with white rice – skewing things a bit further to the Cuban style of serving. I’d love to experiment with a plantain gnocchi one day (although yuca flour is probably well out of the equation!)

The flavours here an big and punchy. The meat has a decent heat kick – feel free to add more or less cayenne depending on how hot you like things. There’s a subtle acidity from the vinegar and tomato paste, but it’s well tempered by the big beefy flavour and the creamy crème fraiche added just at the end. The plantains should be yellow, this means a slightly sweeter mash that has an almost limey brightness to it. The rice and tomato salsa are fairly standard additions, adding bulk, texture and freshness. I loved this meal. So much. The beef here then lasted for a subsequent 4 meals, including a hungover quesadilla morning for four.

And I was delighted to learn that they still had plantains on offer this weekend just gone, so I am restocked again. This time I bought enough that I might even be able to hold off until a few go black and try them that way!
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)

Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains

(barely adapted from Saveur)
2kg beef blade roast, fat layer removed and discarded
2 tbsp. rice bran oil
2 brown onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, diced
3 sweet paprika, diced (sub 1 red capsicum)
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp. cayenne
3 tbsp. tomato paste
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups beef stock
200mL crème fraiche
2 yellow plantains
White rice for serving
Tomato salsa (2 fresh tomatoes, 2 spring onions, handful of coriander and flat leaf parsley finely diced and tossed together)

Heat the base of your slow cooker to medium high and add a slick of oil. When the oil is hot, brown the blade roast on all sides, around 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, stirring here and there until translucent, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, paprika and salt, and cook a further 10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Stir through the smoked paprika, pepper, basil, thyme, cayenne and tomato paste. Add the vinegar and beef stock, stirring to pick up any bits stuck to the bottom.

Bring the liquid to a boil, then place the beef back in gently. Place inside the slow-cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the meat is falling apart.

When the meat is ready, prepare the plantains. Without peeling, cut the plantains into cylinders around 4cm long. Place in a shallow glass bowl, add ¼ cup water cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes, or until the plantains are soft. Remove the peel, then mash the plantains with the water remaining in the bowl. Season with a little salt.

Shred the beef with two forks, then gently stir through the crème fraiche. Serve with plain white rice, tomato salsa and mashed plantains

Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)
Plantains in Perth - Beef Ragu with Mashed Plantains (Slow Cooker Love)