Sunday, October 3, 2010

Plantain recipe: Rellenitos (plantain patties stuffed with black beans)

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When my kids were younger, our wonderful nanny Mirna would occasionally make some of the Guatemalan recipes she missed from home. Once she fried up rellenitos, little dumplings of mashed plantain stuffed with sweetened black beans. Everyone loved them, especially my husband.

For some reason I've been thinking about those rellenitos - in fact, I almost made them for the second Project Food Blog challenge. (I decided on gesztenye palacsintak instead - Hungarian crepes filled with chestnut puree and topped with chocolate sauce.) I confirmed the recipe with another Guatemalan friend, and then yesterday I made a small batch of rellenitos as a test.

Basically, it's a two-ingredient dish. You boil some plantains in their skins, then mash them in a bowl. You mix a little sugar and a little salt into cooked black beans and mash those too. Then you scoop up a patty of the plantain, put a little dollop of beans in the middle, close it up, and pan-fry it in oil.

They tasted great, but I had a little trouble with the plantains. They were loose, almost watery, and I found it hard to form the patties. I suspected my plantains had been too ripe and sent a message to Mirna. I was right. You want them only sort of ripe, she said. Not green. Not black. Still starchy. They'll be sweet enough.

So take that as a warning: Don't let your plantains sit on the counter too long. But do try making these rellenitos, because they're fantastic. They're traditionally served dusted with powdered sugar; I didn't bother, but I bet it would be great.

Rellenitos - mashed plantain patties stuffed with black beans
  • 4 large plantains, yellow with just a few spots of black
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (less if you use canned beans)
  • canola or grapeseed oil, for frying
  • powdered sugar (optional)
Cut the ends off the plantains. Leaving the skins on, put the plantains in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then boil about 15 minutes. Remove the plantains from the water, let cool a few minutes, remove the skins, and put the plantain flesh in a bowl. With a fork, mash the plantains until smooth.

In another bowl, mash the black beans with a fork. Add the sugar and salt and continue mashing until the mixture is almost smooth. You want this to be stiff, not soupy; if it's too loose, add some more beans to stiffen it up.

Put a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan generously.

Form the rellenitos: Wet your hands, grab about 2 Tbsp of the mashed plantains, and flatten into a thick patty in your palm. Put about 1 tsp of the black bean mixture in the middle of the patty in your hand, then gently fold the edges over so they meet and the black beans are enclosed in the plantains. Gently place the rellenito into the hot oil.

Continue with the rest of the plantain mixture, frying each rellenito on both sides until golden brown. Drain briefly on a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like, and serve immediately.

Makes about 12 rellenitos. Note: You may end up with extra black beans. They're also extremely good inside a quesadilla, even sweetened.


Monet said...

These look amazing Erika! I love the variety of recipes you share with us. I've never heard of rellenitos, but they sound right up my alley. My husband and I adore black beans (we just bought a big bag of dried beans last night!) Thanks for sharing.

Melissa said...

Can the black beans be substituted with other beans?

Erika Kerekes said...

@Melissa - I'm sure you could substitue pintos, but the flavor would be somewhat different.

I've also learned via our former nanny's sister that I didn't do it exactly right. The beans should ideally be "refritos" - cooked or canned, then pureed in a blender, then cooked again in a skillet to get them to a dry paste. I haven't tried it that way yet, but I imagine it would make it a bit easier to form the rellenitos if the bean paste were more stiff.

Anonymous said...

Just got back from Quatemala and Irma, our cook (such a luxury) made these and added chocolate to the black beans... delicious!

Anonymous said...

Guatemalan here :) your nanny's sister is right, they are usually "refritos" and the traditional recipe has a bit of chocolate in the beans, just like the person above mentioned. Good post :)

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