how to make patacones (fried plantains)
My family is Panamanian and while I don’t normally cook Panamanian food, I do love it. My favorite staple in Panamanian cuisine is the plantain. Plantains look like giant, green bananas. They are firm, low in sugar (compared to a banana) and typically cooked. When plantains are green (unripe), they are fried to make a savory snack much like fries. There are millions of ways you can fry them- smashed like in this recipe, sliced into coins, grated into haystacks, sliced longwise with a mandolin and the list goes on. If you allow the plantain to ripen until the skin is nearly black (like an avocado), you can fry it, bake it, boil it or microwave it to make a sweet accompaniment to any meal. And speaking of avocado, a chunky avocado mash smothered on these would be divine!
Vegetable oil for frying
1 green plantain
Fill medium sized pot with enough oil to submerge plantains; heat over medium heat. To peel the plantain: Cut off the ends. With a knife, carefully create 3-4 slits through the peel from end to end. Wedge your finger into one slit and shimmy the peel off. Repeat with remaining slits. Slice plantain into about 1-inch chunks. Once oil is bubbling hot, add sliced plantain. Cook and stir until golden and puffy. Remove to paper towels and drain. On a clean surface, smash plantain slices until flat. I use a wooden smasher my mom gave me, but you could do the same with the bottom of a glass. Once smashed, you’ll notice the inside of the plantain is still pale and raw. Season with salt and return to hot oil to finish cooking. Fry until completely golden and edges are brown. Remove to paper towels, pat dry and serve hot. Season with salt if necessary.