Mrs. AlbuKirky here, sharing with you today, part one of a trilogy of posts inspired by what else…a trip to the movies. Food in film is not a rarity. Sometimes it plays a leading character and sometimes it blends into the background. Sometimes it represents wealth and abundance, and sometimes it’s scarcity depicts longing and poverty. Whatever the case may be it’s presence can be powerful. While the food itself almost becomes another character, less attention gets paid to the people who put it on the plate.
Not so in the new movie, Chef, written and directed by Jon Favreau, who also plays the leading character and acts alongside a handful of his Hollywood homies. The limited screen times of Scarlett, Dustin, and RDJ has me thinking that Mr. Favreau called in a few favors, which is absolutely fine with me, because the story is carried largely by Mr. Favreau’s character, Chef Carl Casper, his loyal sous chef Martin, his son Percy, and his ex-wife Inez, played by John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, and Sofia Vargara, respectively.
Various reviews I’ve seen online describe the story as predictable, but that’s ok because the characters are extremely likable and the story that unfolds feels completely believable. I felt like a fly on the wall eavesdropping on real interactions between real people. The only detail that left me feeling bamboozled was the complete metamorphosis of a rusted out, run down taco wagon into a beautiful fully realized food truck butterfly in a matter of only 2 days. Our spare refrigerator in the garage went out and it took us a full 2-weeks to shop for, purchase, and await delivery of a new one. Actually, it took 3 deliveries, before everything was completely settled. I guess it would have played out more quickly if we had John Leguizamo’s cousins putting the wheels into motion.
All in all…I LOVED this movie! I wanted to sit down with these characters and share a meal and a conversation about food with them. Even better than that, I wanted them to cook for me. Alas, since this is a movie and that’s not a possibility, I continued to watch them lovingly prepare their signature food truck dish, a cubano sandwich and tostones, and I thought to myself…we could do that. And so we did. Maybe not as elegantly as our cinema culinary heroes on the big screen did, but dammit, we pulled it off pretty well.
Part 1 begins with tostones; delicious, twice-fried, green plantains. More savory than sweet, because they’re not quite ripe, they partner well with the strong flavors of the spicy garlic sauce I prepared to accompany them. I found this recipe and technique online here. While the sauce was good, I am going to add a touch of honey next time I make this. I think the addition of a bit of sweet will round this sauce out and turn it into something I will want to add to lots of dishes. Plus, the tostones, while savory in their green state, seem to yearn for something to soften the sharp heat of the garlic.
Ideally I would have used a simple wooden tostone press to make these, but numerous trips to all of the Hispanic markets in town left me unim-press-ed…(I made a funny)! Instead I opted to use a large can of Crushed Pineapple. I chose this can primarily for it’s size and heft, but also because it contained the word “crushed” in the title. How appropriate.
Shall we begin?
5 Green Plaintains
Oil for frying
(we used Casa Seasoning)
Garlic Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Fresh Parsley (minced)
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon Lime Juice
5 cloves finely minced Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat 2 or 3 inches of oil to 375º. We used our Disc-It outside, the perfect place to fry.
While the oil is heating, peel and slice the plantains. The peel is thick so cut a seam down each side and pull the peel off in halves. Slice the plantains into 1 inch pieces.
Place the sliced plantains into the hot oil and fry until they just start to turn golden.
Pull them out of the grease and drain on paper towels. Once they are cool enough to handle, smash the plantain pieces into rounds using a tostone press or large can.
Place the smashed plantain rounds back into the hot oil and fry again until golden and crispy.
Remove from the oil and drain again on paper towels. Dust them immediately with salt and pepper (we used Casa Seasoning).
To make the sauce, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and serve.