Plantain Chips

I think the first time I had plantain chips, I was in high school. I was highly suspicious of them because at the time I didn’t really care for bananas and I was certain these banana-looking chips would taste like everything I didn’t like about bananas. We were all young and dumb, once upon a time, weren’t we? 🙂 It’s hard for me to describe the taste of plantain chips, but I do know they are addictive. They have also been elusive to me over the last decade or so. They would show up at Cuban or Argentinean restaurants, but I don’t frequent those very often. Once I got an order of tostones, thinking it would be my beloved plantain chips. I was wrong. It’s a thicker cut of plantain and tasty in its own right, but not at all like the thin and crunchy wafers I was looking for. Plantain chips from the dried fruit or bulk area of my grocery store were never what I wanted. A bit too thick, a bit too sugary, the chips left me disappointed every time. Recently I was on a Jet Blue flight from Austin to Los Angeles, and to my surprised delight, Jet Blue offers plantain chips as an in-flight snack. YES, PLEASE! 🙂 As I was snacking away on the flight, I began to ponder the possibilities of making my own plantain chips. Surely it could not be that hard – especially if the package I was eating from only listed three familiar ingredients: plantains, oil, and salt.

Cinnamon Sugar Plantain Chips

So after spending the weekend experimenting, I am pleased to bring you easy-to-follow instructions on how to peel, slice, and fry your own plantain chips. For me, the hardest part was figuring out how to peel those suckers. They do NOT peel like a banana at all!! I had to go to the World Wide Web for help with that bit. Since I’ve figured it out, I’ve made several batches of plantain chips. I may need an intervention. I played around a bit with seasonings, so I’m happy to share the results of those taste tests with you as well. I have no doubt you’ll soon be making your own plantain chips, too!

Plantain Chips

Canola or vegetable oil
Plantain – I use one at a time
Seasonings: salt, cinnamon-sugar, lime zest, etc

1.       To peel the plantain, slice both ends off and cut in half – like a hot dog, not a hamburger. With the tip of your knife, score the peel – trying not to cut into the fruit. Score thin strips all the way around the fruit. It will come off easier in thin pieces. Flex the peel to get a finger or the edge of the knife between the peel and the fruit, and gently peel it off. Repeat until all the peel is off. Green plantains are harder to peel than yellow ones. However, once past this step, the green ones are easier to work with overall.

2.       Pour about ½ inch – ish of oil into a skillet and heat.
3.       I used a mandoline because I have one – the same job could be done with a knife, though. Set the mandoline on 2 and slice thin, but not paper thin, slices of the plantain. Watch your fingers! Food slices wicked quick on the mandoline, and I don’t want you to get hurt.

Mandoline and Slices

4.       Put one slice of plantain into the oil to see if it’s hot enough. (This is what one does when one does not use a thermometer.) If it is, carefully put a handful of sliced plantain into the oil, one at a time. If you put them in all together, they will stick in one big, unfortunate clump.
5.       Let them fry, and stir them about a bit – I left mine in usually no longer than a minute or so. With a slotted spoon or a spider, take them out, and let drain on paper towels.

6.       Season as soon as you put them to drain. Your seasoning will stick better this way.
7.       Repeat until finished. I give you permission to snack as you work!

Sadly, the lime zest was not as successful as I wanted it to be. I’m not certain why this is, but the zest doesn’t seem to stick to the chips. If you carefully lift up a chip with zest on it, it does taste tropically delicious. However, if you transfer the chips from their paper towel to a bowl, all the zest will fall off, and you will have a moment of disappointment. The various salts and other seasonings I tried seem to work pretty well. My favorite is probably the cinnamon sugar variety.

Yes, they are fried so they aren’t the healthiest of snacks – they certainly aren’t the worst, either! I’m uncertain how to figure out the nutritional content of fried foods as of yet so I consulted the database on My Fitness Pal and learned that for an ounce or 32 – 35 chips, the nutritional content was more or less the same. The numbers I’ve provided are an estimate, but they seem to be an educated estimate. While it’s probably not the best for me to eat a whole plantain’s worth of chips in one sitting, it seems like this could be a good snack for mid-afternoon or accompaniment to dinner. They are thick enough for dipping in most salsas or dips.

So if you aren’t flying Jet Blue or eating at a Cuban restaurant anytime soon, don’t despair. It is actually quite easy to make yourself some of these deliciously crispy plantain chips. Happy eating!!

Nutritional Content – 1 ounce
Calories: 150
Fat: 8 g
Carbs: 20 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 0

Kale Chips

Wait! Don’t go away without reading the recipe! Yes, I know – I don’t eat kale either. Hear me out and then decide what you want to do. Try your best to let go of any assumptions you have about kale. I hear one either loves it or hates it as a cooked green. I don’t do many cooked vegetables in general so I’ve honestly never tried it cooked in traditional form. But I don’t particularly care for cooked spinach so I figure I wouldn’t really care for any of the cooked greens. However, every food blog I read had a recipe about kale chips at some point in the last year and they each referenced at least one other place they had seen them. I thought to myself that I might as well try them – I do like chips after all. The first time I made these I was totally astonished. Blown away. Dumbfounded. Speechless. Confused. Surprised. Delighted. Baking the kale turns it into this impossibly thin, crunchy wafer of vegetable goodness. I like my veggies crunchy; do you? In that case – honey, this recipe’s for you.

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp (or a bunch of shakes – however you measure) of your preferred chip/crouton seasoning. I do recommend it contain salt.

1. Rinse and dry off the kale. It’s important to get as much moisture off as possible. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Tear the kale into bite sized pieces. (Having done these two steps in reverse order – trust me, rinse first.)
3. Combine your oil and salt/seasoning in a roomy bowl.
4. Using the best kitchen tool you have – your hands – toss the kale around in the oil, getting seasoned oil on both sides and into the curls of the leaf. Watch for pieces that fold over on each other. They can be sneaky.
5. Put the leaves on a cookie sheet (I foil line mine – personal preference) in a single layer. It’s okay to crowd a little, but don’t over do it.
6. Put in the oven for about 12 minutes. I usually check mine then to see if they need to be flipped or unstuck from the pan. If they don’t seem quiiiiite crunchy just yet, give them another 2 minutes, maybe.
7. Bring them out and let them cool. They will harden a little bit more upon cooling.
8. Eat them, trying to contain your disbelief at the presto-change-o that happened in your oven.

They come out so freaking small! It’s sort of like vegetable matter Shrinky Dinks…except without the thicker part. I had absolutely no idea that was going to happen the first time I made them. I picked one up and nearly crumbled it because I wasn’t being gentle enough. I sniffed it, deemed it aromatically acceptable, and ate it. It crunched and was salty and delicious. No lie, I had to restrain myself from consuming the entire sheet pan. Whodathunkit? I did try them a second time with parmasean cheese on some and ranch dressing mix on the other half. For a variety of reasons, I recommend sticking with seasonings. I also prefer them salty. Please be warned…they do NOT taste like potato chips. Some woman on one of the aforementioned blogs commented that hers didn’t taste like potato chips. …. Uhm. Well. They aren’t potatoes, dearest, so it’s highly unlikely they’d taste like potato chips. *eye roll* They do taste sort of green, but in a good way. I do encourage you to give them a try – I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Happy eating!

PS – I just realized today every recipe I’ve posted is vegetable based…which is kind of funny given that I’m not a big veggie fan. My next recipe is a meat one and Mexican inspired too. You should get excited now. And then come back to see the deliciousness in print.