Ripe Plantain Turnovers with Black Bean Filling
Empanadas de Platano
Makes 12 empanadas, serving 4 to 6 as a snack
3 to 4 large (about 2 pounds total) ripe (but not mushy) plantains
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Flour for forming the empanadas
Vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2 -inch, for frying
1/4 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other garnishing cheese like Romano or Parmesan
1 cup salsa (Chipotle Salsa is delicious with these empanadas)
1. Make the plantain dough. Fill a large (4-quart) saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Cut the ends off the plantains. Make a shallow incision down the length of the plantains, then cut them half. Add to the pot and boil for 20 minutes. Using tongs, remove from the pot and remove the skins. Cut into 1-inch pieces and let cool completely. Process the cooled plantains thru a food mill (fitted with the largest hole die) or a potato ricer. (There will be about 2 cups of puree.) Season with salt, usually about 3/4 teaspoon.
2. Make the filling. While the plantains are cooling, puree the beans in a food processor until smooth. In a medium (8-inch) non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until slightly brown. Scrape in the pureed beans and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has the consistency of very soft mashed potatoes. Taste and season with salt, usually about 3/4 teaspoon. Let cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
3. Form the empanadas. Drop heaping tablespoons of the plantain dough onto a heavily floured work surface and roll the dough in the flour to form rough balls. Press out each piece of dough into a 2 1/2-inch circle, flipping the dough in the flour to keep it from sticking to your fingers. Add more flour to the surface as needed (you will use approximately 1/4 cup of flour for this step). Place 1 tablespoon of the cooled bean mixture in the center of each piece of dough. With lightly floured hands, pick up the dough, fold it in half around the beans and press the edges together with your fingertips to seal the empanada. Lay the finished empanada on a lightly floured, plastic wrapped baking sheet. Continue until you’ve made all the empanadas.
4. Fry the empanadas. Heat the oil in a large (10-inch) deep, heavy skillet until hot - about 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Fry the empanadas 3 or 4 at a time, turning occasionally, until nicely golden, about 3 minutes total. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once on a warm serving platter with the queso anejo sprinkled over the top. Pass the salsa for guests to daub on as they like.
The formed empanadas can be covered and held at room temperature for several hours before frying. The finished empanadas are best just hot out of the skillet, but they can successfully be fried a day in advance; cool completely before storing in a covered container in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 375 degree oven until thoroughly hot, about 10 minutes.
Choosing the right plantains for this recipe: Choose plantains that are yellow with black stripes. They should still be firm when you press on them with just a slight amount of give. Plantains that are too ripe will affect the consistency of the dough and you’ll need to add flour to the dough in order to work with it. Also, using a food processor to puree the plantains will yields a consistency that requires more flour.
While the empanadas will not be quite as tender as when fried, they can be brushed with an egg wash and baked at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
You can substitute 6 ounces of queso fresco or goat cheese for the black bean filling.