What’s originally from India, can be green or yellow, starchy or sweet, is consumed throughout West Africa, the Caribbean, and Central & South America, and (best of all) can be used to mimic a phallus in hilarious kitchen antics? Yes, that’s right, it’s the plantain – aka banana plantain, cooking plantain, beer banana, bocadillo plantain, tostones, maduro, patacon, chifle, dodo, etc. – and like almost all the best kinds of foods (to us at least) it is most deliciously prepared deep-fried.
Throughout the Caribbean, Central America and the northern half of South America, starchy green plantains, aka patacones or tostones, are one of the principal components of almost every meal, and, depending on where you are and who is doing the cooking, you’ll find them sliced into rounds (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic), cut on the bias to make wedges (Honduras, Cuba), or sliced length-wise into, well, long, um, sausages (Venezuela, Colombia, Jamaica, Trinidad)…Typically, the plantain is fried once before being lightly flattened (in some places this is done with a special tool, but we used a meat mallet or rolling pin to good effect) which gives more surface area, exposing more of the starch to oil, and hence creating crispier patacones/tostones. Then, it’s tipped back into the fryer and cooked until crispy and golden on all sides.
In many places, nothing more is done to it and it’s eaten just like that, maybe with some salt or sliced avocado. In Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba they are often dipped in criole/creole/criollo sauce and eaten with chicken or shrimp, whereas in Venezuela and Colombia they often go into sandwiches with meat and vegetables. Let’s face it though, they’re good anyway you like them. They’re like potato chips on steroids and will fill even the hungriest belly in double-time.
After eating them prepared in a similar way at a restaurant near us in Brooklyn, we spread our patacones with mashed avocado, but then gilded that lily adding sauteed onions, our world (ie: home) famous black beans, crumbled morcilla (blood sausage) and chunks of chorizo. A little squeeze of sour cream and hot sauce finished things off. If you can’t find, or won’t eat morcilla, it would still be delicious with just chorizo, but we can imagine topping patacones with shredded chicken, roast pork, shrimp, fish, or anything you like really. Half a green plantain each made a decent “light” dinner, but these would make fantastic finger-food at a party if you cut them into bite-sized pieces. Viva el patacon!
In honor or one of our commenters (Elra), we thought it would be helpful to actually post a recipe instead of posting an idea of how to make this. So, here ya go:
PATACONES (serves 2 as a meal and 4 as an appetizer)
- 2 green plantains
- enough peanut or veggie oil to fry
- Our “famous” black beans
- Smashed avocado with a bit of lime or homemade guacamole (avocado, lime juice, cilantro, bit of garlic)
- Sauteed onions and green peppers (saute some sliced onions and green peppers in some olive oil w/ a bit of lime juice and salt for about 8 minutes until semi-soft)
- Sauteed chorizo and/or morcilla sausage (again, slice chorizo into small pieces and crumble morcilla into similar small pieces, then saute in until warm and a bit charred – about 6-8 minutes)
What to do:
- With a sharp knife, slice the plantain skin lengthways downwards about 1/2 inch deep. Do not puncture the plantains, you only want to make it easier to remove the skin. Remove skin.
- Slice the plantian in half lengthways (from top to bottom). Heat up oil. Fry each half of plantian for about 1-2 minutes then remove to drain on a paper towel. Let cool for a moment.
- Grab your mallet or tostonera, flatten the plantain as best you can until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick. We basically just smashed ours with a mallet, but be kind of careful not to hit too hard because you don’t want it to split. Once they are all flattened, fry again until golden brown, the time will be determined by how hot your oil is.
- Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with some salt and a squeeze of lime juice and top with your favorite toppings!