Plantain chips make me feel complete. They bring me joy in a way regular potato chips could only dream of. When I’m at a restaurant and I spot plantain chips on the menu, I will be the first to order some for the table and, yes, I’m the one who ends up eating the whole platter. Currently Cafe Habana is home to my favorite plantain chips; they’ve mastered the art of baking the plantain to the perfect crisp and they’re not overly salty, so you can still taste the sweetness of the plantain.
A couple of weeks ago I began craving plantain chips but it was different: I didn’t want the two dollar bag from Trader Joe’s nor did I want to head up to Malibu to order some from Cafe Habana. No, this time I wanted to try to bake them myself. So I did and I failed miserably.
I should’ve known this would go south very quickly when I thought plantain chips were made out of regular bananas and that there is indeed a difference between a plantain and a banana.
For starters, when baking plantains you’re supposed to use a green plantain. While a bit more difficult to peel than a brown one, the inside is firm, therefore, making it easier to slice. Truth be told I got caught up in the week and waited until my plantain was slightly brown.
Now when you’re slicing plantains, you want the slice to be pretty even to ensure that they’re baked evenly. My slices were not even at all; some were significantly thicker than others and because the plantain was slightly mushy it was difficult to even them out.
So I’m off to a rocky start, but it’s fine! All I have to do is dress them in olive oil, place them on parchment paper, and then salt them. How could I possibly screw that up? Well I didn’t have parchment paper, but I did have wax paper. Is there really that big of a difference? I wouldn’t find out until after I bake them but, yes, there is.
Once I salt the chips they’re ready for the oven. I leave them in for 15 minutes and bake at 350. When my timer goes off, I see that they aren’t baked evenly (because of the varying level of thickness) so back in they go for another 5 minutes. 5 minutes was enough to burn half of them. The rest are still salvageable right? Nope! The non-burnt plantains stuck to the wax and I couldn’t remove them. Parchment paper was essential here as its coating makes it heat-resistant and nonstick.
What should’ve been a simple 20 minute recipe turned into a disastrous one. When it comes to cooking I’m a big believer in trial and error so rest assured I will be attempting this again soon. Failing in the kitchen can be quite discouraging; it’s easy to say “I’m an awful cook” or “I can’t cook,” but you shouldn’t let one recipe gone wrong determine how much time you spend in the kitchen. Plus who ever said chaotic cooking can’t be fun?