Have you ever purchased a new kind of vegetable or fruit at the grocery store, fully intending to use it, but then never get up the nerve to do so?
Maybe you forgot you had it… or perhaps you did remember that you had it, but didn’t feel confident enough to try to use it.
I’ve done this a few times with plantains, usually after eating them somewhere and loving them. I’ll go out, buy a couple of them, and on my counter they will sit. I have rationalized that I don’t know how to cook them, apparently momentarily forgetting that the smartphone in my hand has a browser and that it takes approximately five seconds to access google.
My recent trip to Costa Rica has invoked a serious plantain obsession; more specifically, patacone fever. Patacones are basically smushed up fried green plantains. I had them served with guacamole, black beans, and pico de gallo. I ate them nearly every day of my vacation.
When I got home I added plantains to the grocery list, and my husband returned with two glorious looking yellow plantains. I was going to attempt patacones when I realized that all recipes online said DO NOT USE YELLOW PLANTAINS. (The internet says that these will be perfect to eat as pan-fried plantain medallions when they are almost black.)
So off I went to find some green ones. It felt counter-intuitive – I hate unripe bananas, after all. But it’s actually essential that the plantains be unripe so that the patacones remain a savoury dish. If you use ripe or even semi-ripe plantains the patacones become sweet… and that’s not what you want in a patacone!!
Here’s how you can make your own patacones in six simple steps.
Patacone Fever Plantains!
- 2-3 green plantains
- Cooking oil
- Your choice of guac, salsa, beans
- Buy green plantains.
- Cut the tips off each end. Using a sharp knife, cut a line down one side of the plantain (try to avoid piercing the plantain inside), and then pry off the peel with your fingers. Cut each plantain width-wise into 3-4 pieces.
- Heat up some cooking oil in a pan on medium heat, and fry the plantains until they are golden and softened.
- One at a time, move the pieces over to a waxed paper surface (i.e. cutting board) and then place another piece of waxed paper on top and smush it, forming a patty that’s about 1/3-1/2 inch thick.
- Return to the pan (adding sufficient oil as needed) and fry until golden on each side. Remove from heat and place on paper towel to dab off the excess oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and paprika, and serve with refried black beans, guacamole, and/or salsa/pico!
Pamela Tourigny is an Ottawa-based expert on the subjects of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism. She also consults with business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs, and with restaurants on adapting their menus to introduce plant-based options. Contact her here.