Trying one of the most insane recipes on the Internet

There’s no shortage of baffling recipes from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s on the internet, ranging from tomato juice-infused gelatin to frozen cheese salad. But few are as annoying as him. Ham and Banana Casserole. It’s as bewildering as it sounds: plantains smeared with mustard, wrapped in ham, covered in a cheese sauce, and baked. I had to try it myself, and the results were… unexpected, to say the least.

Gathering the ingredients was the first challenge, even though I had most of what I needed at home. The recipe called for boiled ham, but since I wasn’t planning on eating a whole ham, I opted for cold cuts. I was also wondering why it was important to use green-tipped plantains, but realized it was probably because of the extra acidity, or maybe it just made sure the plantains didn’t turn to mush in the oven.

The hardest part of the recipe was making the cheese sauce, and that wasn’t even that hard. Butter, flour, salt, milk, and cheddar cheese came together to make a completely unseasoned sauce. I thought about adding pepper or something, anything to spice up this recipe, but I resisted the urge for journalism’s sake.

My favorite part of making this recipe was brushing the ham slices with mustard and then wrapping them around the plantains. Yes, the prosciutto-wrapped bananas look exactly like you’d think prosciutto-wrapped bananas would look, and when everyone snuggled together in their casserole, they looked like something out of an X-rated horror movie.

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I poured more melted butter over the ham-wrapped plantains as directed, then brushed with cheese sauce; somehow, it looked even less appetizing after completing this process. Then, the “casserole” was put in the oven. I waited 15 minutes with bated breath. I have to admit that the smell of baked bananas was not bad. It reminded me of baking banana bread, although I was noticeably less excited than I would be for a slice of banana bread.

The timer ticked, and the moment of truth was finally upon me. I took some photos of course, but that could only delay the inevitable for so long. In fact, I had to try it. I had to put a piece of banana wrapped in ham covered in a sad cheese sauce in my mouth, chew and swallow. I had done this to myself. I had requested this. And this was my moment of truth.

The plantain had softened quite a bit in the oven, but the ham had only hardened, making it difficult to cut. Once I managed to get a bite-sized piece onto my fork, I took a bite. And, readers, don’t come for me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result.

Baked plantains are objectively good on their own, so I wasn’t surprised that the mushy sweetness of the plantain was pleasant. The addition of ham wasn’t as noticeable as you might think, especially when you consider the above combination of ham and pineapple on the pizza; It’s not that different when you think about it. The mustard added a hint of flavor (which was desperately needed here). Truthfully, I could have done without the cheese sauce because it was so bland, but since there was so much butter in the sauce, it wasn’t offensive in the least.

Looking at a photo of a ham and plantain casserole, you might assume that the people who made this recipe back in the day tasted horrible. Admittedly, this recipe is not the tastiest, nor would I make it for friends and family. But you really can’t assume you’re going to hate something until you try it for yourself. The Ham and Plantain Casserole wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, and if you really like plantains (I don’t), it’s probably at least a solid recipe.

Moral of the story? Don’t judge a book by its cover, I guess. Or, perhaps more importantly, the moral of the story is that coating anything with half a stick of butter will make it taste good, even ham-wrapped bananas.


Samantha Maxwell is a Boston-based food writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

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