Dish of the Week: Plantain empanadas at Porch Light Latin Kitchen
Compared with the attractive, refined ambiance of Porch Light Latin Kitchen in Smyrna , the restaurant’s plantain empanadas are a little rough around the edges. A polite term for their appearance might be “rustic.”
Bite into one of these frisky little empanadas and it will continue to subvert your expectations. The tender, salty shredded pork cheek is there, as advertised on the menu, but there is only a hint of plantain. After a few minutes of slow chewing and staring at the bowl of empanadas before me, I had a "Zoolander"-style epiphany a la, “the files are in the computer?”
The plantains are in the empanada shell! Chef Andre Gomez makes his empanada dough with a traditional method that combines mashed green plantains, eggs, a little fat and a little salt. The recipe produces a dough that’s made almost entirely from plantains. After they’re fried, the empanada shells are unusually dark and crispy — a result of the sugars in the plantain dough becoming lightly caramelized.
Those who are more familiar with Ecuadorian cuisine won’t be so surprised, but, for the uninitiated, these plantain empanadas are a delight. One of the poignant lessons taught by Derek Zoolander is that it’s never too late to learn something new, whether you’re trying a new dish or turning left for the first time.
Porch Light Latin Kitchen. 300 Village Green Circle SE, Smyrna. 678-309-9858, porchlightlatinkitchen.com.