Red Bean Gravy:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pound or 6 Roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can red beans or pinto beans
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 4 green plantains
- 8 slices bacon, fried crisp, plus 3 tablespoons reserved bacon fat
- 3 garlic cloves
- Kosher salt
- Special equipment: food processor and 4 (6-ounce) ramekins
For the gravy:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the onion, green pepper and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes to soften the vegetables. Then, add the tomato paste and cumin and cook until a deep reddish-brown color is achieved. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they become tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in the broth and the beans, bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. (Chef's Note: The consistency will be soupy.) Adjust the seasonings with salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste.
For the faux-fongo:
Heat 2-inches of vegetable oil in a deep skillet to 360 degrees F.
Cut the plantains into 2-inch pieces, then remove their skins with a knife by cutting through a corner of the flesh along the length of the slice to get a lead, then peel the fruit. Fry the plantains, in batches, in the oil until when tapped with a metal spoon it sounds hard, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pieces to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining plantains.
Sandwich the plantains between parchment paper and, using a small plate or a coffee mug, press them so they are about 1/2-inch thick. Fry the plantains again at 360 degrees F until crisp and golden, then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to cool slightly.
Add the fried plantains to a food processor. Combine them with the bacon, bacon fat, and garlic, then pulse until everything is blended, but still chunky. (Chef's Note: The texture should be a mix of crunchy, moist and tender.) Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, if needed.
To serve, spoon in enough Faux-Fongo to fill a 6-ounce ramekin and press the mixture down well. Invert the portion onto a plate and ladle the gravy around it. Repeat with remaining 3 servings.