Twice Fried Patacones
Freshly picked plantains are used for cooking Patacones. When freshly picked, the plantain is green. So do not wait, as the plaintain ripens with time.
Twice Fried Patacones, also known as Twice Fried Green Plantains is to the Tico, like potato chips, crackers and nachos are to Americans. This delicious Costa Rica accompaniment is a staple that has many uses. It is added to soups and an assortment of dishes. It is used for dipping and as a snack or hors d’oeuvre. So, it is very versatile.
Another name for Patacones is Tostones. Keep in mind that they are fried green plantains, not bananas, (which are called a banana chip, or a chifles). This method of preparing the green plantain is a Patacones recipe that turns the green plantain into a chip for great dippings and the like. For North Americans, the Patacones will be a healthier alternative for nachos, salted crackers, potato chips and many other commercially made fast foods.
- When peeling Green Plantain and Banana, the skin can secrete a fluid that stains and will become, harmlessly, sticky on the fingers. To prevent this, pour a teaspoon of cooking oil in the palm of the hands and rub fingers and palms with it prior to peeling. Afterwards, wash hands with a soapy detergent to remove the oily residue.
- Patacones are highly addictive. Fortunately it is ‘good for the health’ and after your first taste, you may never look at the Potato in the same way again.
Select a couple of Green Plantains (about one Plantain per person). Some cooks prefer a Plantain that is slightly ‘turned’, or about to ripened and showing a hint of yellow. Others like them green and firm.
- Cut off the ends and discard them.
- Slice lightly the skin along the length of the green Plantains’ to remove this casing. Be sure that cut is only ‘skin-deep’ and then discard the skin.
- Slice horizontally, across the fruit, at one inch (1”) intervals, you will wind-up with several Plantain discs ready for the ‘first’ dip in the hot oil in the pan. (After getting the hang-of-it, make diagonal cross-cuts (instead of horizontal) and make a larger Patacones.)
- Fry them in an oil with a high temperature rating, like peanut or avocado oil heated in a frying pan. This particular method of preparing the Plantains is called the ‘twice-fried’ version and you will now see why.
- Let the oil get hot (350F) and make sure the Plantain discs are free of excess moisture to prevent hot oils splattering about.
- Use stainless-steel cooking tongs to turn the Plantains when they just begin to turn slightly yellow in the hot oil (not golden brown) turn them until both sides are merely a yellow-brown.
- When both sides have been ‘yellowed’, remove the discs from the oil and place them on a clean flat food preparation surface.
- For the next step, there are many ‘special tools’ that can be used. The discs are now flattened with the ‘special tool’- the base of a clean coffee mug, or jar with a smooth bottom to press the discs flat. Try not to break the discs, and if they stick to either surface use a spatula to lift them off and ready them for the return to the hot oil.
- When all are satisfactorily flat, gently replace them in the hot oil for the ‘second frying’. As they crisp turn them over for a few minutes on the other side.
- Remove from the oil and place on absorbent towels to remove excess oil. Salt the lot lightly, and toss about in the cloth to coat. Some persons like to add a little onion, or garlic to the salt for more flavor.
After cooking the first batch, you will gain the knack of getting them just-right. Next test the product by sampling on its own. Then select the dip with your favorite flavor and serve on the Patacones.
Enjoy them whilst they are warm, either as a ‘side’ with sandwiches, hamburgers, fish, or chicken. Top them with cheese, avocado, salsa, or any dip that you prefer. In Costa Rica the most popular topping is Ceviche, but that is for another recipe.