What’s Up, Hungry People!
This week, we dove into the vibrant world of West African cuisine. Lucky for me, I got some first-hand insights from my buddy Nick, who spent some time in Ghana. He’s always raving about “red-red,” a celebrated dish enjoyed all over Ghana. So, naturally, I had to try it out.
The Story Behind Red-Red
Nick couldn’t stop mentioning “red-red,” a classic Ghanaian dish that’s both filling and full of flavor. Traditionally, this dish is savored with your hands—no utensils needed! I, however, paired ours with some freshly made tortillas.
No judgments here on how you choose to enjoy it; either way, red-red has quickly joined the ranks of my go-to recipes.
Here’s What You Need
- Black-eyed peas: The main protein and base of the red red; they absorb flavors well and offer a satisfying bite.
- Onion: Adds a foundational aromatic layer and sweetness to the dish.
- Minced Ginger: Provides a warm, spicy kick that complements the other flavors.
- Minced Garlic: Another aromatic that adds depth and a slight spiciness to the dish.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Their sweetness and juiciness add complexity and contrast to the overall flavor profile.
- Diced Tomatoes: Adds body and texture to the stew, while also contributing to the tomato base.
- Tomato Paste: Concentrates the tomato flavor and thickens the stew.
- Paprika: Provides mild heat and smoky undertones.
- Chicken Broth: Adds depth of flavor and serves as the liquid base for cooking the beans.
- Salt & Pepper: Basic seasonings to adjust the flavor to your liking.
- Tortillas or Pita: Served alongside for scooping up the red red, or for a less traditional eating method.
- Plantains: Offer a slightly sweet, starchy component that contrasts with the savory red red.
- Olive Oil: Used for frying the plantains, it has a higher smoke point and adds richness.
- Butter: Adds creaminess and a rich, savory note to the fried plantains.
- Sugar: Slightly caramelizes the plantains, highlighting their natural sweetness.
- Pinch of Salt: Balances the sweetness of the plantains and enhances their flavor.
Ready to whip up some red-red? It’s simpler than you think. Toss all the ingredients into a crockpot and slow-cook those beans until they’re tender. This should take you around five hours. Yep, you heard me—just set it and forget it!
Plantains: A New Experience
Before diving into this red-red adventure, I’d never even tasted a plantain. As it turns out, they taste a bit like less-sweet bananas, but with their own unique flair. If you’re new to plantains, you’re in for a real treat!
Here’s What You Need to Fry the Plantains
Time to talk plantains! Get your skillet ready and add a blend of butter and oil, along with a dash of sugar. Once everything’s nice and hot, toss in the plantains and sauté them until they turn a lovely golden brown. You’re aiming for a texture that’s just crisp enough on the outside and super soft on the inside.
You can serve these fried plantains right alongside your bowl of red-red. They make a great dipping tool—think of them like less conventional chips. But if you’re aiming for the full Ghanaian experience, just dig in with your hands and enjoy the texture and flavors mingling together.
Tips for Perfecting Your Red-Red and Plantains
- Adjust Cooking Time for Beans: The beans could take more or less time depending on your crockpot. Start checking around the 4-hour mark if you’ve set it on high, or around the 7-hour mark if on low.
- Plantain Ripeness Matters: A more yellow plantain will be sweeter, while a greener one will be starchier. Choose according to your taste preference.
- Control the Skillet Heat: High heat is good for quick browning, but watch the plantains carefully. Lower the heat if they’re browning too fast.
- Stir Carefully: When stirring the red red or flipping the plantains, be gentle to maintain their structure.
- Serving Options: Feel free to serve the red red and plantains in separate bowls or combine them in one. No matter how you serve it, it’s all delicious!
What’s more satisfying than creating a dish that’s both a feast for the eyes and a treat for your taste buds? I can honestly say red-red and plantains have become a staple in my kitchen. It’s a delightful way to explore the rich flavors of Ghanaian cuisine right from your home kitchen.
Plus, who can resist the crunchy-soft combo of fried plantains? The beauty of this dish is its versatility, so don’t shy away from tossing in your own twist. And remember, food tastes better when you’re having fun in the kitchen. Until our next delicious experiment, Hungry People—Enjoy!
Ghana Red-Red & Plantains
FOR "RED RED"
- Combine all the ingredients for the red red in a crockpot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, then set the crockpot on high for five hours or low for eight hours.
- When you're ready to serve the red red, thinly slice the plantains to about 1/8-inch thickness. Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the plantains with salt and sugar, then add them to the skillet. Sauté until they turn golden brown, which should take about 10-15 minutes.
- Serve the red red alongside the plantains and tortillas or pita, as you prefer. Enjoy!