05/10/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

In Pursuit of the Perfect (and Quick) Plantain

If there is one kind of food that I love more than anything in the world, it's easy food, and there is no easier food to make than plantain.

The other day, I walked past Flor de Mayo and recalled my love of fried, sweet plantains. Rarely, I forget and eat a french fry from a restaurant, but nasty rashes remind me that eating food that comes out of the same oil that the breaded chicken fingers and the battered onion rings were cooked in isn't the kindest thing to do to my body. Thus, I haven't had too many plantains in restaurants over the past six years. Luckily for me, I live in a neighborhood that still has a couple of good, old-fashioned Spanish bodegas tucked away here and there, which means that I can make the easiest street food in the world in my kitchen. It literally takes 6-9 minutes depending on how much I am cooking.

I know that this isn't the healthiest fare, but even one so-ripe-that-it-is-almost-entirely-black plantain fried up and split between a family is such a delicious treat from time to time. They are best served with a juicy roasted chicken straight from the oven, some rice made with shallots and turmeric and a big-old spoonful of black beans. This is how they are best served. I like to eat them piled on a plate, all alone, and I have to make more than one for the family, because I don't like to share.

Fried Plantains

4 really ripe sweet plantains (almost entirely black)

canola oil for frying

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the canola oil to 375 degrees. While the oil is heating, slice off the ends of each plantain and remove the peel. Cut the plantains into 1/8-1/4" slices. When the oil is hot enough, begin cooking the plantain slices in batches. Cook each batch until golden, making sure to turn the slices so both sides brown. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.