Over the last 9 months, I have learned more about cooking than I ever expected. But that’s not saying much, really. I’ve never been much of a cook… I’ve survived for years on my stash of “safe” recipes, and I’m not one to experiment much in the kitchen.
But then, 9 months ago, everything changed. My family moved to Bogotá, Colombia. As it turns out, most of my “safe” recipes don’t work here, either due to the altitude (we’re at almost 9000ft!) or because I can’t get many of the ingredients I’m used to. So, kitchen experimentation suddenly became a necessity! And now that we’re here, I have two reasons to start learning how to make Colombian dishes; first of all, it’s delicious, and at least I know it will work with the altitude! And secondly, we’ll be adding an adorable little Colombian toddler to our family any day now, and I want him to be able to grow up eating food from his birth country. So I’ve started trying a few.
Of all the wonderful Colombian recipes I’ve tried, this one is hands-down my favorite. It’s easy, it tastes amazing, and you only need 3 ingredients! (Well, four ingredients if you include whatever topping you choose to put on top.) Believe me, even if you aren’t one for foods from different cultures, this one is worth trying.
Patacones, aka, Fried Green Plantains, are a Colombian staple. They are served as a side dish or an appetizer, usually topped with something savory, like guacamole, pico, or some sort of saucy meat.
• Green plantains…not too green, but more of a greenish-yellow. Each plantain will yield maybe 5 patacones
• Oil for frying
• Peel the plantains and salt them up well.
• Cut into slices to 1” each.
•In a decent-sized pot, add an inch or so of oil (enough to cover the slices once you add them), and heat the oil over medium high heat.
• Add the plantain slices to the heated oil in one layer. Fry for about 3 to 4 minutes per side…they’ll be a nice goldish-brown. Remove the plantains with a spatula, and put them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
• Let the patacones cool briefly. Grease a flat pot cover, then press the slices well on the pieces of plantain, flattening them until they’re about a quarter-inch thick.
They’ll look like this when they’re flat…
• Add the flattened slices back in the hot oil in a single layer (you may need to work in batches) and fry for a couple additional minutes on each side.
• Remove the patacones from the oil with a spatula, and transfer them back to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. If you want, you can sprinkle them with a bit of salt.
As far as toppings go, anything savory is GREAT. I have topped them with guacamole, salsa, pico, or something meaty like a stir-fry type combo. When I made a batch this week, I topped them with shredded chicken in a tomato-pepper sauce, and they were delicious!
I should warn you that these don’t keep well… the times that I’ve tried to save some for the next day, they weren’t quite the same. But really, that won’t matter because you won’t have any leftovers anyway!
Nikki Bonham is from Madison, Mississippi. She and her husband, Nate, have 3-yr-old twin boys named Noah and Barrett. They are also in the process of adopting a 3-yr-old Colombian boy named Luís. They currently live in Bogotá, Colombia as part of a missionary training program, and they’ll be moving to Arequipa, Perú next spring. Nikki blogs about life, kids, adoption, and missions at The Bonham Line.