The Sandwich You Didn't Know You Could Make With Plantains

At first glance, a plantain looks a lot like a banana; however, plantains are much larger, have much thicker skin, and can be readily used in a variety of dishes whether they are fresh, green, and unripe or they are ripe – black and yellow – and at their sweetest. Plantains are absolutely delicious. In fact, Robert Schueller of Melissa's Produce in Los Angeles told Fresh Plaza  in 2018 that plantains are "now the second most popular banana variety in the United States, behind the Cavendish." 

This fibrous and starchy food is prepared like a vegetable, and while thought to be native to Puerto Rico, actually originated in Southeast Asia. It is popular to use plantains when you are making testones, also known as twice-fried plantains, which are generally eaten with a side of ketchup. But plantains have another use that might surprise you. They can also be turned into the foundation for a sandwich that will make your taste buds pop (via The Pioneer Woman). Yes, plantains are quite versatile. The heartiness of the plantain makes it perfect to make a sandwich called a jibarito, pronounced "hee-bah-ree-to" (via At Home with Rebecka), and if you have never had one, it is time to rectify that because they are quite tasty.

Traditional jibarito uses fried plantains, steaks, and special oil or sauce

According to Thrillist, the jibarito is made by frying up slices of unripe plantain that serve as "bread." Then pile high on this fried goodness all of your sandwich makings. Usually, jibaritos are prepared using thin cuts of seasoned steak, lettuce, tomatoes, white cheese, and garlic oil or mayo, but some variants use steak or pork. Per At Home with Rebecka, the rising popularity of this sandwich is in large part thanks to Chicago and the restaurants who serve-up this sandwich. But exactly who can claim the title of creator of this sandwich that would make Joey from Friends happy and satiated, is a little murky. 

Thrillist suggests that the idea for the jibarito may have come from the sandwich de platano which was created in 1991 by Jorge Munoz for his Platano Loco restaurant located in Puerto Rico. The sandwich de platano is also breadless and uses flattened and fried plantains. But regardless of how this sandwich came into existence, one thing is certain: you definitely should try one. Today, the jibarito is not limited to Chicago. It can found in Florida, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC or you can try your hand at making one yourself.