by Natasha Reta – Culinary Consultant
Plantains, yes, the scary-looking banana everyone leaves at the market because its well-known cousin is much more popular in our modern-day America. But in my travels over the years, I’ve found plantains to be much more of a regular daily staple in countries like Egypt, Colombia, and the latter part of the tropical Americas. Most often used in mashes, as chips, baked and fried, plantains are paired with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When the pandemic first hit and supplies ran low at our local supermarkets, to my surprise, the plantains remained on the shelves. Perhaps we are just not accustomed to cooking these beastly-looking bananas. But with more Vitamin A, C, and B6 in each plantain, I’d say it’s time to add more plantains to our diet, and unless you’ve had experience with them, they can seem quite daunting a task to prepare.
So if you want to impress your friends and family this year, dazzle them with an appetizer that will catch eyes, thrill taste buds and entice audiences. I like to make the ever so popular tostones, also known as patacones, often found in Colombian dishes. These plantains are sliced into chips, fried once to soften, then fried again to crisp. Serve with your favorite dip and enjoy.
I enjoy mine with chipotle aioli as the heat from chipotle pairs well with the earthy sweetness of the plantain. Follow the recipe below for a plateful of patacones.
4 green plantains
2 cups frying oil (vegetable, peanut, safflower, or canola will do)
- Pour oil into a deep cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven, or large, heavy bottom pot. Add about 2 cups or until your oil is about ½” deep. Heat over medium heat up to 375 degrees which may take 5-8 minutes.
- While oil is heating, prepare your plantains. Trim off both ends and remove the peel. Slice plantain into ½” coins. Note: the peel does not remove as easily as a regular banana so prepare a sharp knife to slice lengthwise down through the peel.
- Once the oil is ready, fry plantain coins until golden brown for about 2 minutes, occasionally flipping coins, so they do not stick.
- Remove and allow oil to drain. Place coins on a board or sheet tray, smash and flatten each into a thinner chip. Do this while they are still warm and the exterior is still pliable.
- Reheat oil to 375 degrees and fry again to crisp. Fry until they are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Allow the oil to drain slightly, do add salt while still warm and freshly drained from oil. The residual oil will help the salt stick to the plantain.
- Transfer to a platter and serve with your favorite dip.
- Nothing better than a hot chip on a cold night.