Thursday, June 12, 2014

SYM Cajun Patacones

This past March, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Panama. It was a beautiful country with wonderful people and some really good food. With almost every meal we were served patacones (or tostones), which are slices of green plantain, smashed and double-fried. My husband decided that he really enjoyed this side dish, so I learned to make them at home. When I was thinking of "unique" ways to use a few Slap Ya Mama products, I remembered a spicy baked fish dish that we ate in Panama. It was served with plantain cakes, but they were larger than the average patacone. They were a mash-up of plantains, pineapple, and other tropical ingredients that cut the heat of the fish perfectly. So...if they could make plantain patties, why couldn't I? I ended up with a fun, rather spicy nibble that incorporates the Slap Ya Mama Cajun Jambalaya Dinner Mix with plantains and a few other select items. These are a great snack, or they could be used as a side dish, if desired. They are best served fresh and warm, with a little garlic sauce/chimichuri, and hot sauce to taste. Buen provecho!

SYM Cajun Patacones
by Chris

2 medium green plantains, to make 1 cup, cooked and cubed
1 Tablespoon Slap Ya Mama Cajun Fish Fry
1/2 cup Slap Ya Mama Cajun Jambalaya Dinner Mix, prepared according to directions, with diced vegetables of your choice replacing the protein(s) suggested on the box (I used a mixture of corn, bell pepper, and onion)
1-2 dashes Slap Ya Mama Cajun Pepper Sauce, to taste
6 Tablespoons water, divided
3 Tablespoons chicken stock
2-3 Tablespoons instant potato flakes (as needed to thicken mixture)
3+ Tablespoons grape seed oil, for frying
1+ Tablespoon unsalted butter, for frying
Chimichuri sauce, for serving (optional, but recommended)

Begin by cutting the ends off of the plantains. Then cut each plantain into 4 pieces, leaving the skin intact. Using a pot large enough to hold the plantain pieces, cover with water and bring to a steady boil. Boil the plantains for 20 minutes, then remove from the water. When cool enough to handle, remove the plantain skins by simply slicing the skin with a knife and peeling. Continue by chopping each large piece into 4 smaller bits. Allow to cool completely.

In a blender, combine the 1 cup of cooked, chopped plantains (you may have some left over), the 1 Tablespoon of Slap Ya Mama fish fry, the 1/2 cup of cooked Slap Ya Mama jambalaya mix, the pepper sauce, and 3 Tablespoons of water. Blend well (at least 30 seconds), then scrape the sides of the blender down with a spoon. The mixture will be rather chunky at this point. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of water and blend again (at least 30 seconds). The mixture will still have chunks, but they should be smaller. Scrape with a spoon again, and add the 3 Tablespoons of chicken stock. Once more, blend. On this round of blending, continue to process until the mixture has no larger pieces. It will still appear a bit grainy in texture, but should be rather liquefied. Scrape down the sides of the blender and add 1 Tablespoon of potato flakes. Blend for 30 seconds and check the mixture, scraping the sides of the blender yet again. At this point the "dough" should be coming together and will hold its shape when pinched with your fingers. Continue to incorporate 1 Tablespoon of the potato flakes, blend, and check for consistency. The dough is done when it is resembles a sticky cookie dough. It will feel rather loose, but will indeed hold together when picked up by hand. Put dough into the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more in order to allow it time to become more firm to the touch.

After allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator, cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop about a Tablespoon of the dough out for each patty. With the Tablespoon of dough in your hand, roll it around to create a ball. Place the ball of dough on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cover the dough with another small square of parchment paper and use the bottom of a heavy glass or mug to gently press the dough into a nice circular shape. Repeat this process until your cookie sheet is full. The dough will NOT spread when cooking, so the size that you make the patties will remain the same. Place the full cookie sheet into the freezer for 30 minutes, and return your dough to the refrigerator between batches.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Remove the plantain patties from the freezer and let them sit for about 5 minutes. Bake the patties at 350°F for 5 minutes, then gently flip the patties and bake for 5 minutes more. Again, cover each patty with your smaller piece of parchment paper and gently smash in order to thin them just a little. Carefully remove the cooked patties from the cookie sheet and allow to cool on the countertop. Repeat the above steps until all of your dough has been used.

Using a small, shallow skillet, combine 3 Tablespoons of grape seed oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Once oil is shimmering, gently place about 3-4 patties in the skillet. Do not add too many, as they will burn quickly. Allow the patties to shallow fry for approximately 30-45 seconds. You will see the edges of the patties begin to brown. This is your sign to flip them and fry the second side. The second side will need to fry for about the same amount of time as the first. If your patties are thicker, they may take a bit longer to cook through. In this case, reduce the heat on your stovetop, as you do not want them to burn on the outside yet not cook through to the center. Remove cooked patties and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat the frying process as necessary. If your oil level gets too low, add more oil and butter, allowing the new oil to heat before continuing.

These are best served fresh and still warm, but they can be reheated in the oven at a later date. Serve with a chimichuri sauce (Dorot makes a great pre-prepared chimichuri, just heat and serve) and a splash of Slap Ya Mama pepper sauce. They work great as an appetizer or as an unexpected side dish. Enjoy!

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