The idea of gluten free eating has become better known in the last few years, bringing great joy to those who are coeliac or gluten intolerant. Brixton is lucky to have the fabulous WAG Bakery, but many people complain that gluten free eating, although good for their health, can feel lacking in excitement and treats. For those people, here is the jibarito or fried plantain sandwich which can be described as many things, but health food isn’t really one of them…
Hailing from Puerto Rico, it was a very very good day in life when Zoe introduced me to this sandwich. It replaces bread with fried green plantain and can be filled with just about anything, but traditionally fried chicken, cheese and salad topped with garlic mayo. You could tweak it to be a veggie version using halloumi or fried aubergine (and before you panic, the breading isn’t wheat based here for either.)
Jibarito: serves 4 (please see end of recipe for vegetarian option)
- 2 green plantains
- 2 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened plain yoghurt
- 1 avocado
- 2 tomatoes
- 4 slices strong cheese, such as mature cheddar or gruyere
- 50 ml cooking oil
- 100g instant mashed potato flakes
- garlic mayonnaise
First bat out your chicken thighs so they are nice and thin. The best way is to cover with clingfilm and hit with a rolling pin until the desired thickness. Then marinade in the yoghurt for at least 2 hours. This will both tenderise the meat and allow the coating to stick.
While the meat is marinading, peel the plantain with a potato peeler. Green plantain skins don’t come off like the banana style ones on ripe plantain and this is the quickest way. Cut the fruit into in two halves and then each half in half again so you end up with four slices from each. Fry each slice for about a minute and a half each side in a pan, until just starting to soften. Drain onto kitchen paper and then place on a chopping board. Put another board on top and weigh it down well to flatten the plantain out. It’ll need at least 20 minutes but you can leave it longer.
Once you’re ready to eat, brush any excess yoghurt off the chicken and then dip into the seasoned potato flakes until it is well coated. Fry on a medium heat for about 4 minutes each side and then leave to rest while you turn your attention to the plantain. Resting the chicken will make it even more juicy.
Turn the heat up on the frying pan, adding more oil and fry the plantain until golden and crispy on each side. Just before you are ready to serve, put the cheese on half the pieces of plantain to melt and then start building up your sandwich. Add the avocado, tomato and chicken and top with garlic mayonnaise and tuck into a sandwich so good it’ll convert even the biggest bread lover to gluten free.
*If doing a meat free version, use aubergine instead. Cut into slices just thicker than a pound coin and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. This steams it slightly, meaning it soaks up less oil and makes it easier for the crumb to stick. Then dip in the potato flakes to coat and fry til the aubergine is soft. Serve as above.
Miss South blogs at northsouthfood.com