Introduction: Tostones (Fried Plantains)

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A garlicky Cuban snack of twice-fried plantains

Step 1: Acquire Plantains

Find some nice, hard, green plantains.

Yellow or brownish plantains are far too sweet for this application; I'll put up another recipe for those later, but they're handled completely differently. A green plantain has much more in common with a potato than a banana.

Step 2: Peel Plantains

Cut the head and tail off of the plantain, then score through the skin lengthwise. Make another cut about an inch away, then peel the strip off. This will be pretty stiff; you may need to use the knife to peel particularly obstinate bits.

Once you get the first strip off, the rest of the peel will be easier to handle. Peel and trim the rest of the skin off, leaving the starchy plantain.

Step 3: Slice

Cut your plantains on the diagonal, making slices ~1/2 inch thick. The steeper the diagonal the larger each piece will be.

You can play with the thickness a bit, but don't go too far off the 1/2" mark.

Step 4: Fry

Heat canola oil in a heavy flat-bottomed pan until it shimmers. Add plantains one-by-one; if they sizzle, the oil is hot enough. Shake the pan a bit to keep the plantains moving; they should float freely in the oil. If they stick, it likely wasn't hot enough.

Flip the plantains after a minute or two, just as they're starting to turn golden but before they begin to brown. We'll be giving them a second fry in a minute, so they'll turn golden-brown soon.

Remove and drain on paper towels.

Step 5: Smash

When your fried plantain slices have cooled enough to handle, it's time for some smashing.

Find a nice big flat item; it can be a big knife, a cutting board, a fry pan, or anything else with a nice flat surface. I'm using a cleaver.

Place your fried and cooled plantain slice on a clean flat surface (counter or cutting board), then place your cleaver (or equivalent) on top. No smashing death from above; just place it gently on top.

Now push or lean on your cleaver until you feel the plantain smush underneath. It should squish down to less than half its original thickness.

Peel it off the cleaver with a spatula, and make a pile as you work through the fried plantains.

Step 6: Fry Again

Drop the squashed plantains into the hot canola oil again, and fry for a minute or two until the edges just begin to turn golden brown.

Flip the plantains, and fry for another minute. The slice should be uniformly golden-brown, but not burnt.

Remove plantains to a paper towel covered plate to cool.

Step 7: Make Garlic Sauce

Tostones are properly served with a tasty sauce of garlic in olive oil. Since we usually end up fighting over the garlic, I've chosen to make more of a garlic/olive oil slurry. Modify your ratios accordingly.

First, grate the garlic into a bowl. Add olive oil and stir, checking your consistency to see what ratio you'd like. Add a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

The raw garlic will be quite spicy; if you want to mellow the garlic flavor cook it for a bit. Either pan-fry it in the olive oil, microwave the garlic, or use roasted garlic for an even more mellow flavor.

I use raw garlic because it bites back- this garlic sauce was strong enough to actually burn my mouth. There were no vampire attacks for days afterward.

Step 8: Serve

Sprinkle your plantain chips with salt, and serve with the garlic sauce.

You can serve the garlic sauce in individual ramekins or shallow communal dipping bowls, or just dot each individual piece with the garlic sauce.

They're best served hot or warm; you can keep the tostones warm in the oven until ready to serve.