How to impress the in-laws with Puerto Rican cooking

Congratulations! You’ve been married for a few months now, and you’ve settled into a little routine. You’ve got your first place all set up with your mis-matched furniture, plates, glasses, and pretty much everything else as you and your bride have not only merged your lives, but your earthly possessions into one apartment the size of a postage stamp. Your wife’s parents are anxious to check out the new digs, and before your bride has finished checking the date, you hear the words erupt from your mouth: “I’ll cook!”

“What?!” You start to sweat a little bit. “I’ve never even cooked for my wife! Well, maybe breakfast a few times. Does toast count? Can I make breakfast in the evening? Would we drink decaf coffee? You can’t really serve iced tea with breakfast for dinner, can you?”

Relax, hombre. I’ve got you covered. You don’t need to cook breakfast. Cook Puerto Rican! Puerto Rican food is ethnic, but it’s attainable and can be easy to repeat. Even if you’re not Puerto Rican yourself, you have my blessing!

Nothing says “Puerto Rican cooking” quite like pork and plantain (puerco y plátano)! Well, that, and garlic, olive oil, and Goya, the largest Puerto Rican/Hispanic-owned food company in the United States. What you’ll need are the following:

  • pork chops (enough for you, your bride, your in-laws, plus one or two extras)
  • 3 yellow plátanos (plantains), sometimes called “cooking bananas”
  • Goya Adobo seasoning
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

To start, film a frying pan with olive oil—the good, extra virgin kind, that should have a greenish tint. Peel and crush two cloves of garlic and throw them in the pan on medium heat for a couple of minutes. While the garlic is perfuming the oil, take your pork chops and sprinkle them with Goya Adobo seasoning on both sides. I swear, you can transform practically anything into the taste of our people with Adobo; from meats to eggs, from the pan to the grill, it’s that versatile! Now, throw those into the pan with the oil and garlic and cover.

Pork chopsIMG_1016

On to the plátanos! Cut off the tips and slice down the back to peel them. Though these look like bananas, they must be cooked, as they are quite starchy. Put about a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in another skillet, and put it on medium-high heat. Cut the plátanos diagonally for extra authenticity;  I’ve never seen any Puerto Rican slice them in rounds.

Platanos
Toss one or two slices into the oil to test the heat. The oil should sizzle around each slice, but not be too hot that it pops or smokes. Cook them until they are golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip them until golden brown on the other side, about another 2 minutes.

fried platanos
Scoop out the plátanos onto a plate with some paper towels to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle them lightly with salt. Now, grab your pork chops, as they should be done cooking while you’ve been cooking the plátanos.

Puerto Rican pork chops
Once you’ve plated and presented, your mother-in-law will be so impressed that you know how to cook plátanos, much less SAY it, and your father-in-law will appreciate that there’s a hearty meal. And your wife, well, she’ll be beaming.

Enjoy! Or, as we say in my family: ¡Al ataque!

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The Beginning
About Paulo Jennemann

I'm first generation Southern; my dad is from Ohio, and my mom is from Puerto Rico. My wife and I moved to Memphis, TN from Madrid, Spain, and we have two sons. I'm a high school Spanish teacher, a home cook, a dad, and a blogger. I don't always speak English after 7pm.

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