Patacones or Tostones are simply twice-fried green plantains and make the most delicious crunchy snack or side dish to a meal. The best part? Because they are only 3 ingredients, they are Paleo as well as AIP, gluten-free, and dairy-free! In this post I show you how to make them.
This post may contain affiliate links and I received a copy of Latin American Paleo Cooking for review. All opinions are my own.
When we went to Costa Rica a few years ago (I wrote about what we ate in this post), patacones (or tostones as they are called in some countries) were one of my most favorite things. There the patacones were the size of dinner dishes and fried to utter perfection. We ate them both plain and then topped with so many different things – guacamole and fresh salsa, braised beef, pork, a bean mixture, some mango salsa, and I even had them one morning topped with rice, beans, and fried eggs.
Since that trip we've had them at home several times, but we often use them as a base under some pulled pork and mango salsa. It's just such a perfect combo. However, because they are so easy to make and offer a hearty kind of starch to any meal, they are perfect with a lot more than just that.
Like case in point, look at this picture I took of a page in the new book Latin American Paleo Cooking by Amanda Torres:
They can be used as a sandwich! (Now if you are from Latin America, you are probably laughing at me saying “of course!!”, but I'm a sheltered American girl. Until I went Paleo, sandwiches meant two slices of Wonder Bread)
The one thing to be said about these is that they might seem a bit intimidating to make. To be 100% completely honest, I let my husband cook these a few times before I had the balls to try it myself, and you know what? Um, nothing to be intimidated about about it all… Like easy peasy lemon squeezy kind of a task. Don't believe me? Watch the video I made to show you how to make patacones:
Can't see the video? Watch How to Make Patacones
Ok, now that you should no longer be intimidated and realize you too can fry, smash, fry, let's learn how to make more delicious Latin American food. Oh, and I have the recipe for these patacones down below.
So this recipe is from that book I mentioned up above – Latin American Paleo Cooking by Amanda Torres (with help from her Puerto Rican mother-in-law, Milagros Torres). This is a new book that has:
- over 80 traditional recipes that are authentic as possible and have been made Paleo.
- Over 90% of them are also Autoimmune Paleo-compliant (AIP).
- All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free, and all but 1 are egg-free
- Recipes include Family Dinners, Party Food, Quick & Easy Meals, Sides, Sweets, and the Essentials
All of this I mention because I know quite a few of you are either living in a Latin American country or are of Latin American descent and aren't sure how to continue eating your favorite foods from your culture. Cultural foods are one of the hardest sometimes to let go of when going on a restricted diet, whether because you have to because of a newly discovered food allergy/sensitivity or because you heard a Paleo diet can help heal you or help you lose weight. It's resources like this then that are SO valuable because they essentially allow you to continue to carry on your traditions but also allow you to feel better too.
One of my favorite parts of this book is that there are some really delicious-looking recipes for starchy sides. If you too get sick of cauliflower rice (a) there are some flavor combos for cauliflower rice that you might want to try out to see if that makes a difference but also, (b) Amanda gives a few other alternatives that go well with stews or other places that you might want rice. My family eats white rice a few times a month, but I find us reverting to white rice as a regular staple sometimes because I'm not sure of other alternatives. I don't really want to get into that rut, so I'm excited to try these other recipes out. One of them is a “rice” made of a malanga root (with a taro root variation) that looks really good. I couldn't find malanga root at my local store so I bought a taro root and plan to try this one out this week.
There are also some plantain recipes that look like they will go nicely with some dishes I have my eyes on.
Speaking of not finding malanga root, one other section I really like in this book is the section where Amanda explains the ingredients and how to find them, what to look for, substitutions, etc. I have an Asian/Tropical Market near me and I'm always astounded when I go in there how foreign it all feels to me and how many fruits/vegetables I've never used. I mean, you go into most grocery stores in American and it's the usual broccoli, carrots, beets, celery, red peppers, right? You go into an Asian Market and it's cassava, ugly fruit, taro, lemongrass, durian, etc. I don't even know WHAT most of these things are, much less how to use them. But I get bored of American stuff and so it's fun to try out new things – with a little help from an expert who can tell you what to do with them. This section of the book is that expert 🙂 (trying out new things is a GREAT way to stay motivated on a restricted diet – “Look at all these things I can eat that I've never had before!”
You can get Latin American Paleo Cooking here (or at most bookstores)
Two more notes on the patacones before I give you the recipe –
- If you go to the store and can't find any green plantains, ask an employee of the store to see if they might have some in the back. I've been lucky quite a few times to score green plantains this way.
- You can do the smashing step in several different ways. Amanda recommends using a tostonera press, which is under $10 and you can either get it your local store or on Amazon here. I personally use either our tortilla press (this is the one I have) because it does both tortillas and patacones, the bottom of a bowl or pan, or a meat mallet. You can also use the bottom of a glass or even your hand if you want too (though if the plantain is still hot from the 1st fry, be careful not to burn yourself). Also, if you use a bowl, glass, or pan, you might have to press pretty hard to make sure the plantain is flat enough. And if you use a meat mallet you have to be careful not to whack it too hard or it will break apart. Long story short, you can make these a ton of different ways. Use whatever one works best for you, the space you have in your kitchen, and your budget.
- 2 green plantains
- 4 to 6 tbsp (56 to 84 g) fat of choice (coconut oil, lard or avocado oil)
- Coarse sea salt
- 1 to 2 tbsp (1 to 2 g) chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- Slice the tips off the plantains with a knife, then cut 1 or 2 slits in the skin down the length of
the plantain. If the peel does not lift off easily you can loosen it by soaking the plantains in
a bowl of water with about 1 tablespoon (6 g) of salt for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Slice the peeled plantain crosswise into disks to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 cm) wide.
- In a large skillet, heat your fat of choice over medium heat until shimmering, 3 to 5 minutes.
Carefully add the disks to the heated fat, cooking on each side for 2 to 4 minutes, or until
they have turned a darker, more golden color. Do not allow to brown.
- Remove the disks from the oil and flatten, using a tostone press (recommended) or a
sturdy glass/jar or flat meat mallet. If using a tostone press, place the disk in the recessed
circle and then clamp down the lid on top.
- Return the flattened plantain disks to the hot oil and fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes
on each side, or until crispy and browned. You will likely need to work in batches to fry
the flattened disks.
- Add extra cooking fat as needed, because these will absorb quite a bit of fat as they cook.
Top with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt and a garnish of cilantro and serve immediately;
tostones do not reheat well. Serve with your favorite main dish.
This dish is AIP compliant: No adjustments necessary!
Recipe Reprinted with permission from Latin American Paleo Cooking by Amanda Torres with Milagros Torres, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017.