Fried plantains with cheese
My mom’s perfect breakfast recipe for a skillet of fried plantains with melted cheese, made with sweet ripe plantains topped with grated quesillo or grated mozzarella.
A skillet full of lightly fried sweet ripe plantains topped with melted cheese is my ultimate comfort food. My mom used to prepare plantains this way for breakfast when I was a kid, so this dish always brings back warm memories. On those days when I feel homesick or I need a pick-me up kind of meal, a plate full of platanos maduros con queso or ripe fried plantains with cheese is the perfect cure.
My kids also share my love of plantains, even my oldest that has recently developed a dislike of regular bananas, still loves plantains. I try to make prepare this plantain dish for them on the weekends. It’s just too crazy on weekdays. I don’t know how my mom managed to always make us this for breakfast; in addition she also made us fresh fruit smoothies. These days I prefer to have a freshly brewed cup of cafecito negro or black coffee to go with my plantains and cheese.
These fried ripe plantains with melted cheese are great for breakfast or brunch, but I also love to make them occasionally for dinner. Also, if I’m feeling really hungry I also like to add a fried egg on top – a bite of egg + ripe plantain + cheese + a little bit of aji or hot sauce is heaven in a bite!
In Ecuador we use a fresh young cheese called quesillo to melt on top of the plantains. Quesillo is similar to a fresh farmer’s cheese and I found some here -both when I lived in Austin and also in Seattle)-that are very close to Ecuadorian quesillo, but they are so expensive ($15 plus per pound).
Mozzarella has become very popular in Ecuador in the recent years, before you would mainly buy quesillo at the market, but now most people buy cheese – usually mozzarella – at the national supermarket chain. One of my mom’s neighbors makes quesillo to sell and showed me how to make it during my last visit, the process is actually very easy – the biggest challenge is that quesillo is made with raw milk.
Plantains get sweeter and softer as they get riper and completely ripe means that they are black all over. The level of ripeness that you look for in a plantain varies based on how you are going to prepare them. For this recipe of ripe fried plantains with melted cheese, they should be ripe but still firm, usually this means very yellow with hints of black.
You can also prepare this recipe by baking the ripe plantain slices instead of frying them, but it does take longer and they tend to be a little bit drier. Also, about the same amount of oil or butter is used regardless of if they are baked or fried (at least in this recipe).
Skilled of fried plantains with melted cheese
- ½ to 1 tablespoon oil or butter
- 1 to 1 ½ ripe plantains per person – depending on the size of the plantain and how hungry you are
- ½ cup of grated mozzarella cheese per person or grated quesillo or a mix of mozzarella and queso fresco – this is about 4 to 5 ounces depending on the type of cheese
- Hot black coffee
- Fried egg – optional
- Aji or hot sauce – optional
- Cut the tips off and peel the ripe plantains, depending on the size you can either cut them in halves before slicing or slice the entire plantain. It does make it easier to slice them if you cut them halves first. Next, cut the plantains into slices that are about ¼ inch thick (or about ½ cm thick).
- Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the plantain slices and cook on each side until they start to turn a golden yellow color, the flesh will go from a pinkish or light peach to yellow when they cook. You can turn them only once, though I usually end up turning them a first time, and then if needed giving the ones the need it another turn to get that golden tone.
- Once the plantains are cooked, turn the heat down to very low or completely off, sprinkle the grated mozzarella or quesillo on top, and cover with a lid for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts.
- Use a large spatula to transfer the ripe plantains with melted cheese to a plate and serve immediately. Can be served as is or with a fried egg on top and some aji or hot sauce on the side.
For baking option:
- Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
- Brush or rub the ripe plantain slices with oil or melted butter.
- Place the plantain slices on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the plantain slices over and bake for another 7-10 minutes or until nice and golden.
- Sprinkle with the grated cheese and return to the oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts.
Made this last night but topped it with carnitas! It was delicious!
Your posts are magnificent! They show so much work, care and knowledge. A true inspiration.
My family is from Nicaragua and this dish brings back memories as well. We use EITHER green plantains or ripe plantains and fry this in slices. We also fry white cheese or “queso de freir” and its deeelicious! Yummo!
But I will try this version as it looks delicious.
I can’t wait to make this. :-D
Paz! I’ve missed you! I’m sure you will love this!
Hola Laylita. Quiero decirle que me alegro muchísimo haber encontrado su website. Sus recetas son exquisitas. Con respecto a los plátanos, mi amiga Treasa es del sur de India y allí preparan el plátano camagua o sea no muy maduro, pero tampoco verde. Se hace una mezcla de harina, agua, sal y comino en grano. La mezcla de harina tiene que ser espesa a manera que se pegue al plátano cortado a lo largo. Freírlo en aceite bien caliente. Delicioso!
Hey Laylita, My Mom’s family is from French Harbour, Roatan (Bay Islands of Honduras), and I’ve always been a purist when it comes to my fried/boiled/baked ripe plant’ins–just a lil salt is perfection. A while back, we went to a Salvadoran, or maybe Ecuadorian restaurant on the WestBank of N’awlins. It was the first time I had plantanos maduros with crema–I realized then that there was more than one level to perfection. :)
Just wanted to say that I can’t wait to try your recipe.
And a lil trick that I learned from Rachael Ray (I think she got it from Gloria Estefan of Miami Sound Machine fame). You can microwave ripe plant’ins to perfection in less than 2 minutes.
Cut the tips off the top & bottom, then score down each of the side seams, then wrap in plastic-wrap. You can hold both ends and then spin the plant’in to seal the tops & bottoms shut. Then “nuke” the plant’ins in the microwave for a minute or 2 to steam them perfectly. (You might have to “nuke” a couple to find the optimum time.)
Carefully remove plastic-wrap & skin for perfectly steamed plant’ins.
You can mash for Foo-Foo, slice into disks, or cut lengthwise. Then you can add your favorite toppings, whether plain salt, crema, or melted mozzarella. I could see a melted sharp cheddar making an interesting topping also.
While writing this, I have this crazy idea to dust some ripe plant’ins with either cayenne or chili powder–have you ever tried this?
Haven’t tried them with cayenne or chili powder, but I love them with aji or hot sauce on top.