Editor's Note: Welcome to the third year of The Vegan Experience! All month we're exploring the vegan lifestyle, from dining out to eating in, developing a slew of delicious recipes for vegan appetizers, snacks, and entrees along the way. For more posts in the series, check here!
There's nothing revolutionary about this recipe in terms of technique—the plantains are a typical Colombian side dish called patacones (those'd be tostones if you're from Puerto Rico), and the sauce is a tomatoed-up version of my Basic Guacamole. But something quite magical happens when you get the two of them together.
And I'm not talking the Max Maven or Criss Angel-type of magical, I'm talking the kind of magic that happens when, say, Bert and Ernie get together, or when Paul McCartney guest stars on The Simpsons. It's the synergistic type of magic.
The plantains are cooked the same way that my wife's Colombian Aunt Gloria taught me: green, starchy plantains are cut into chunks, fried once at a relatively low temperature, then smashed and fried again at a high temperature to crisp them up. OK, almost the same way Gloria taught me. My wife informed me the other night that I've been cooking them wrong all along. Apparently I'm a little overzealous with my smashing, resulting in patacones that are a little too thin. I pooh-pooh her and try to shoo her out of the kitchen so I can get my smashing done, but she insists on correcting me, so I reluctantly roll with it.
She's right, of course. The resulting patacones are measurably thicker than mine, but immeasurably tastier, with a really strong contrast between crisp exterior and moist, fluffy center, almost like a perfect french fry.
It makes downing the salty snacks with a big dollop of creamy guacamole all the more exciting. I'll have to remember to thank her next time my face isn't stuffed full of delicious fried things.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.