Few things can bring back my childhood than patacones, or fried plantains. You may hear these delicious crisps referred to as tostones from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other Latin American regions. In my mom’s native Panama, they are called patacones. In the United States, you have probably heard of plantain chips which may seem similar to patacones. The difference is that patacones are served fresh and hot, whereas plantain chips are often processed and sold packaged like potato chips. In my previous post on maduros, I showed you the other favorite way my mom taught me to cook plantains (platános).
Start off with green plantains. You want the bananas to be as green as you can find them. Rinse them off in cool water before peeling. Why do this? Not sure. But my mama has always done it so I do it, too!
Fill the skillet to about 1/3 full. Heat the oil over medium to high heat. While the oil is heating, slice the plantains on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.
Patacones are double-fried. I fry them about 3-4 minutes on each side, before pulling them out of the oil. However, they are not going to look cooked. This is okay. I take them out anyway and place them on a paper-towel lined plate.
One by one, I use a mallet to smash the plantains.
Carefully, I slide the slices back into the oil, using the spoon to gently nudge them back into the oil.
I fry them about 2-3 minutes longer on each side until they are a beautiful golden brown.
I sprinkle the sea salt on them immediately.
I am absolutely smitten with the fact that Scooter Britches can’t get enough of patacones. Children and grandchildren raised in the United States tend to lose connection to the heritage of the older generations in the family. It is up to us parents and grandparents to keep the special things of our heritage alive for them.
I want my daughters to enjoy the Panamanian foods I was raised on. Even living in Arkansas, my mom made sure we had plantains, white rice, beans, and arroz con pollo regularly.
It was difficult holding this little two-year-old off until the plantains had cooled enough for her to safely eat them. She was after them and would not be turned away! We are lucky we had any left for dinner!
- 2-3 green (unripened) plantain bananas
- enough vegetable oil to fill a skillet about 1/3 way
- sea salt or table salt
- Fill a skillet about 1/3 way full of vegetable oil, and place on medium-high heat.
- Slice the plantains on the diagonal, slicing into 1/2 inch slices.
- When the oil is hot enough to sizzle, carefully add the slices to the oil, without overcrowding the skillet.
- Brown the slices about 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Remove slices from skillet with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel covered plate. (Note: the slices will NOT look cooked.)
- With a mallet or a rolling pin, smash each slice.
- Carefully, slide the slices back into the oil.
- Fry the bananas a second time, flipping once. This time, fry them until they are a nice golden brown.
- Carefully remove them and place on fresh paper towels.
- Sprinkle generously with sea salt or table salt.
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