Plátano Horneado con Queso
The smooth sweet flavor of
plantains is one of my most
favorites; probably because I ate
plantain daily growing up. We had
a few plantain plants in the
backyard, and the local truck with
a loudspeaker selling plantains
would come by the house a few
times a week. Whether they were
coming from our own backyard,
the plantain truck, or the market;
we had them all the time. They
look like bananas as they are from
the same plant family, with the
difference that they must be
cooked before consuming it. They are not as sweet as bananas, although
they do have natural sugars that normally help the caramelization you see on
fried plantains.  

For this recipe, I used maple syrup to help bring out their natural sweetness
and obtain that beautiful golden color. In Venezuela, baked plantain is served
with a salty hard cheese for a nice contrast of flavors that tastes delicious.
This recipe couldn't be simpler.  The plantains must be very ripe, soft to the
touch with the outside yellow and black spots. I purchase plantains often and
keep them on my kitchen counter until they are ready to use.

This is one of those recipes that comes from the heart of my mom's kitchen. I
hope you enjoy!  

Ingredients
4 ripe plantains
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup

For Serving
1/2 cup cotija cheese  
Butter, as much or as little as you'd like, we won't judge.

Method
Preheat the oven to 400º F

With a sharp knife, cut the ends of the plantain, make a cut lengthwise on the
peel making sure that you don't go too deep into the flesh. Peel off with your
hands, as you would a banana. Place the plantains on a baking sheet
prepared with silicon matt or parchment paper. Place the butter in a
microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until completely
melted. Add the maple syrup and stir. Brush the butter mixture on top of the
plantains. Using thongs turn them and make sure they are completely coated
with the butter. It is ok to have some butter left; we will use this after they
bake.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes, so they get golden
brown on all sides. They are done when easily pierced with a fork.  Remove
from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Brush with any butter left.

With a paring knife, slice open each plantain lengthwise creating a pocket;
make sure not to cut all the way through. Add more butter if you'd like. Fill
with cotija cheese and serve immediately. Enjoy! Serves 4
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