Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tostones hors d'oeuvres as winter bears down

We are awaiting a real winter storm. This could be snow day territory. But I realize that just because sledding with my toddler in a winter that threatens but never really gets underway is at the forefront of my plans, you might have a holiday party on your mind. And it is my sworn duty to help you and to get you to the best party possible, taking into account corrections to my own party work here which I will make the next time.

Tostones. I loved this idea when I saw a photo of this concept in Martha Stewart Hors d'oeuvres. The book does not mention, as it should, that this nibble is even more laborious and slow than most as tostones must be blanch-fried, pressed, then fried again. The pork must be slow cooked or braised. And when all that is behind you, the assembly is no walk in the park.

I loved these little bites but in the future will use one tostone on the bottom rather than create mini-sandwiches as the tostones are very dry. In researching this post, I notice all sorts of short cuts have been applied to the original ML recipe, consequently, you have options to speed this up if you wish. While I made the jerk sauce I used you can certainly buy it or your favorite barbecue sauce. I leave it to your taste to decide if you prefer pulled pork (as I do), chicken, (which ML Hors d'oeuvres called for) or beef (as featured in Gourmet) and whether to use jerk sauce or a traditional gently spicy BBQ sauce. Whatever combination you choose, be sure to trial run these as a too-sweet sauce would cause the flavor to be cloyingly sweet with the chutney.

Pulled Jerk Pork on Tostones with Mango Chutney
80 pieces, $26.00 or $.33 a piece
8 hours, 2.5 hours active

6 lb. pork shoulder ($10.00)
Kosher salt and frehly ground black pepper
2 cups jerk sauce, purchased or homemade ($4.00)
Tostones, below ($9.00)
1 8 ounce jar Major Grey's Mango Chutney ($3.00)

For the tostones:

8 large unripe barely ripe (yellow-green) plantains ($6.00)
about 4 cups canola or peanut oil for frying ($3.00)
Kosher salt

With a sharp small knife cut ends from each plantain and cut a lengthwise slit through skin. Peel off skin gently. Cut plantains crosswise into 3/4" slices. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet heat 1/2 inch oil over moderate heat until just hot enough to sizzle when a plantain is added. Fry plantains in batches without crowding, until tender and just beginning to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. With tongs. transfer plantains paper towels to drain.

Remove skillet from heat and reserve oil. With the bottom of a heavy saucepan or a wide solid metal spatula flatten plantains to 1/4 inch thick (about 3 inches in diameter). Into a bowl of warm salted water dip flattened plantains, 1 at a time, and drain them well on paper towels.

Heat reserved oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and fry flattened plantains in batches, without crowding, until golden, about 3 minutes. With tongs transfer tostones as fried to paper towels to drain and season with salt.

These will keep in an airtight container, refrigerated overnight. Take them from the fridge, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and reheat at 200 degrees for ten minutes or until warm.

For the pork:

Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper. In the basin of a slow cooker place the pork shoulder and pour over the jerk or barbecue sauce. Following your cooker's instruction per pound and cook roast until meat easily pull away from the bone. Remove the meat to a bowl and place cooking liquid in a separator. When settled, pour off and discard the clear part/ fat. Place remaining liquid in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced to one third the original amount. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Pull the pork from the bone while also discarding large fat deposits. With a knife, dice as finely as possible. Pour the reduced sauce over the meat and stir gently to combine. Set aside.

This will keep two days, refrigerated, in an air tight container. Remove from the fridge a half hour before assembling.

To assemble:

On top of each tostone, place a small spoonful of pulled pork followed by a 1/2 teaspoon Major Grey's Mango Chutney. Serve immediately.

Dori assembling the tostones sandwiches just before the party began.

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