My first encounter with plantain was as a child on Christmas day in London. We were staying with our old family friends who lived in South London. There were six kids, three adults, several guinea pigs and always a party atmosphere. We had driven up from Hertfordshire rolling around lose in the back of the car. The guinea pigs had to come in their hutch as we couldn’t leave them home alone. There was a trifle under the driving seat and more food and Christmas presents under the other seats! I remember lying down in the back of the car pushing my feet against the windows. Not a seat belt in sight. How times have changed!
We arrived in time for Christmas lunch but there were two surprise guests; two extremely glamorous black women, both quite stunning. We were surprised, but not as surprised as my Mum’s friend! Her husband worked for Air Jamaica and the two ladies, who were air hostesses, had been stranded in London overnight on Christmas day. Of course they had a hotel to go to, but that seemed a bit miserable, so he had invited them for lunch. As a contribution, they bought plantain with them that had been picked that morning in Kingston! It was a real treat and quite unusual for a 1970’s typical British Christmas dinner of roast turkey, spuds, parsnips and Brussels sprouts. It started a tradition…
We have since had many lovely family Christmas mornings dripping round the house in our nighties and PJs with a glass of bubbly thinking about brunch – with plantain. We always had grandparents coming on Boxing Day for a big roast dinner so Christmas Day was for kicking back a bit. Maybe a stroll in the morning with the dog and then a lazy brunch in the early afternoon… no pressure, lovely!
I would start slowly chopping potatoes for sautéed pots, cleaning button mushrooms, slicing garlic, cutting big tomatoes into fancy spikey shapes and making Sosmix sausages loaded with herbs, black pepper and a splosh of port.
The plantain preparation is almost a ritual! I choose soft – almost black ones, peel them, halve lengthwise then halve again. Then gently pat with a heavy rolling pin so they relax and spread out like patties.
Heat some olive oil in a medium pan, when it’s hot, place the plantain in and leave for a few minutes until golden. Turn and cook on the other side.
Then plate up the sausages, tomatoes, pots, mushrooms, beans and plantain. Squeeze a generous squirt of fresh lime juice over the plantain, sprinkle chopped parsley or chives on the tomatoes and serve with your favourite sauce. I like Tabasco. The plantain adds a sense of occasion which can be lacking from a regular brunch. For me this feels like holiday food and it can brighten up even the darkest wet cold Saturday in February!