In Panama and other countries in Central America and the Caribbean, fried plantains accompany many meals. Often prepared with butter and sugar, the sweet treat, known as "patacones" in Panama, is enjoyed at breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually as a side dish or a topper for meat or fish. Select ripe plantains, either the mottled green variety for a savory presentation or the sweetest nearly black ones for a dessert. Be sure to purchase actual plantains, not just green bananas. Although they're related, plantains are starchier than the standard banana.
Things You'll Need
- Sharp knife
- Frying pan
- Cooking oil
- Paper towels
- Wax paper
- Flat-bottomed glass or bowl
- Garlic powder
- Brown sugar, cinnamon or powdered sugar
Cut off both ends of the plantain with a knife. Make a slit in the peel down the length of the fruit, cutting through the peel but not into the fruit underneath. Use your fingers or the knife to gently pull the peel away from the plantain at the incision, gradually removing the entire peel. Discard the peel.
Cut the plantain into diagonal slices about 1/2 thick and 2 to 3 inches long.
Pour cooking oil into a heavy skillet, deep enough to cover the plantain slices. Heat it over medium-high heat. Carefully add the plantains in a single layer to the hot oil. Fry them for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove the plantains from the oil and place them on several layers of paper towels to drain.
Put the plantain slices between two pieces of wax paper. Press gently on each plantain, using the bottom of a glass or small bowl, to flatten it out. Flatten each piece to about 1/4 inch thick.
Drop the plantains back into the hot oil. Fry them for a few minutes more on each side. Take them out of the oil and drain them again on paper towels.
Sprinkle the plantains with salt and garlic powder for a savory treat; top each plantain slice with a piece of cheese for a more filling version. Dust the fried plantains with brown sugar, cinnamon or powdered sugar for a sweet variation.
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