If you’ve been to any cooking class at The Chopping Block, you’ll be given a little appetizer that we employees refer to as a “Chef App.” A lot of times, your chef app is our famous Truffled Popcorn. But sometimes, we get the opportunity to create something more. In fact, if you check on some of our Instagrams (like mine at @wonderveganida), you’ll see many of us post our creations with the hashtag #ChefApp.
So what do we tend to use for our chef apps? Usually it’s when we have a surplus of a particular ingredient, which some of us view as a challenge to get creative. One day this past month while working our Wine & Dine class, I saw in our pantry a large bundle of plantains. I LOVE plantains, so the wheels in my head started to spin. I began to think of this Peruvian restaurant I used to live by that served something called maduros, which are caramelized plantains.
Plantains to bananas, plantains are very starchy and almost always used in savory dishes throughout Latin, Caribbean, and African cuisine. If you ever go to Puerto Rico, you will encounter (and I hope you order it because it’s delicious) a dish known as mofongo, which is plantains that are pickled, fried, then mashed with garlic, oil, and salt, and is often served as an accompaniment to meat or vegetables. (Side note: it’s actually very easy to find vegan-friendly mofongo in San Juan. I found so much when I went there in 2015.)
The plantains I saw in the pantry were at the slightly overripened stage, which was perfect for anything mashed. I also saw a bunch of small potatoes, so when the wheels in my head stopped spinning, I thought “Aha! Croquettes!”
A croquette is a breadcrumbed and fried ball or patty of... really anything. So why not a combination of potatoes and plantains? They are both starchy and fluffy, so they’ll hold their shape well. And when you add roasted garlic, and pair it with a cilantro lime chimichurri, it’s gonna be delicious! Plus there are only two types of people out there; those who love fried stuff, and those who don’t want to admit they love fried stuff.
This recipe takes about 30 minutes of total prep time.
4-5 small potatoes, or 2 medium potatoes, left unpeeled & whole
2 plantains, very ripened
6-8 cloves roasted garlic
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup almond milk mixed with ¼ cup cornstarch (this is important, as this is the vegan egg wash substitute. You need these two mixed together so the breadcrumbs adhere)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Cover the potatoes with cold, heavily salted water. Bring to a boil, and boil until the potatoes are tender. Small ones should only take about 15 minutes. Medium ones will take upwards of 30 minutes. Drain and let cool for a few minutes, then peel with your hands. Place in a bowl with peeled plantains, roasted garlic, salt & pepper, and mash until smooth. Using a small scoop, scoop out filling, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Meanwhile, heat a dutch oven or medium saucepan with canola oil, and heat the oil to 375. In 3 separate bowls, place flour, almond milk-cornstarch mixture, and breadcrumbs. Dredge each scoop of filling into the flour, then liquid mixture, then breadcrumbs, and place back on the baking sheet. Fry the croquettes a few at a time until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes, and place on a rack to drain. Season with salt. Pair with Cilantro Chimichurri, recipe below.
1 shallot, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Pinch of red chili flakes, to taste
3-4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 bunch fresh cilantro, tough stems removed
3 sprigs fresh oregano, stemmed
⅓-½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
In a food processor, add the shallot, garlic, & chili flakes, and process until chopped. Add lime juice & herbs, and puree until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the machine running, slowly steam in the olive oil until smooth and emulsified. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Want to come check out other cool vegan offerings The Chopping Block has? Sign up for Vegan Voyage: Bayou Blast Sunday September 10th at 10am at the Merchandise Mart, and Wednesday September 27th at 7pm at Lincoln Square. We also have our last Vegan BBQ on the Grill class of the season coming up on Monday, September 18 at 6:30pm at Lincoln Square.
Want more vegan recipes that you don't have to be vegan to love? Download our Vegan from Scratch: A Guide to Vegan Cooking.