How to Make Patacon Maracucho (Fried Plantain Sandwich)

Food writer Marisel Salazar shares her personal recipe for this popular Venezuelan dish featuring double-fried plantains.

Marisel Salazar Patacones cropCourtesy Marisel Salazar

Tired of the same ol’ ham and cheese or chicken salad sandwich? If you’re in the mood for something new to change up your everyday lunch routine, look no further than Patacon Maracucho. To learn all about this tasty Latin American dish, we talked with New York-based food writer Marisel Salazar, who shared her family’s recipe along with a handful of simple tips for perfect patacones.

What Is Patacon Maracucho?

Patacon Maracucho is a fried Venezuelan sandwich from Maracaibo in the state of Zulia. “Patacon Maracucho refers to its origins in Maracaibo, but it is well-known and served throughout Latin America,” Marisel explains. “Instead of bread, this dish uses two twice-fried and smashed unripened plantains to contain the sandwich’s fillings,” she adds.

While Patacon Maracucho is distinctively Venezuelan, variations of this dish can also be found through Latin America by other names. For example, in Puerto Rico, you might see this dish on menus referred to as a jibarito. Also popular throughout Latin America, are tostones or patacones; which are a smaller, non-sandwich version of this twice-fried, smashed plantain delight commonly served as a side or appetizer.

How to Make Patacones

If you’ve never worked with plantains before, start with a simple batch of patacones. It will help you master the technique of slicing, flattening and frying plantains. To make patacones, you can adapt Marisel’s recipe below by simply cutting unripe, green plantains into 4-5 round slices rather than cutting them lengthwise. This will result in smaller, bite-sized pieces, rather than large, sandwich-sized pieces. Then, fry and flatten as directed in the recipe.

You can munch on these poppable, fried snacks plain, season with your favorite spices or serve with a creamy dip of your choice. We think this avocado dip would be especially delicious.

How to Make Patacon Maracucho

“Platanos have always been a part of my family meals growing up. It seemed that there was always room on our plates for some plantain variation,” says Marisel. “To me, sandwiches are a perfect food and Patacon Maracucho marries two of my great food loves: plantains and sandwiches.”

In Marisel’s version, she fills her patacon with the proteins and fillings that she loves: chicken or tuna mixed with mayo and lots of cilantro along with an assortment of fresh vegetables for added texture.

Yield: 2 Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 2 green unripened plantains
  • 2 cups shredded roasted chicken
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 4 stalks fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Canola, vegetable or corn oil, for frying

Directions

Step 1: Prep the plantains

Peel plantains by cutting off the tips and creating a lengthwise slit in the thick skin. Peel off. Slice plantains in half crosswise.

Step 2: Fry plantains

In a heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, heat a neutral oil ideal for frying to 350°F. Fry the plantains for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from oil and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Marisel’s Tip: There’s no skipping this step. The plantains need to be fried twice! This initial frying helps to break down the starches and allows the plantains to flatten easier in the next step. Then, the second fry is what gives the patacon their extra-crispy texture.

Step 3: Flatten the plantains

On a flat surface, lightly oil a sheet of plastic wrap  or a large gallon plastic bag with neutral oil using a pastry brush. Once cool enough to handle, place one plantain half on the plastic. Fold the other half of the plastic over the plantain and then, working slowly, gently press the plantain with a flat bottomed plate until it forms a 1/4-inch thick disk. Repeat with remaining plantain halves.

Step 4: Fry plantains again

Return the flattened plantains to the hot oil and fry for an additional 3-4 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. If you’re new to deep-frying, don’t miss our tips for becoming a master of the fryer.

Step 5: Prepare fillings and assemble

While plantains cool, mix chicken or tuna and mayo together in a bowl until combined. Assemble the plantain sandwiches by spreading half the chicken or tuna salad onto a plantain half and layer with half the tomato, half of the avocado and cilantro. Top with a second fried plantain disk and enjoy.

Marisel’s Tips for Making Patacon

Let the filling be your adventure

Use patacon as you would for any sandwich. You can make a BLT, ham and cheese sandwich or even avocado toast. While soft-cooked meats like roasted chicken are popular in Venezuela, patacon fillings are only limited by your imagination.

It’s all about balance

A creamy sauce and soft fillings are key, as patacon are crispier and have less moisture than bread. To achieve the perfect sandwich, try to find a balance between the various crispy, soft, dry and moist ingredients in your patacon.

Choose the right plantains

Marisel stresses that buying unripe, green plantains is critical to getting patacon just right. “Green plantains rather than ripened yellow plantains are essential. Yellow plantains will result in a sweeter sandwich and may not achieve the desired level of crispiness or sturdiness,” she explains.

Be mindful of your frying technique

Using a neutral-flavored oil, like corn, vegetable or canola, at the right frying temperature is also key in order to not impact the final flavor or texture of patacon. Be sure to test the oil in the pan before submerging the plantains. It should shimmer around the plantain during each fry.

Be gentle

Take extra care and use a gentle hand when flattening the plantains. The last thing you want is for the plantain to break apart before you fry it a second time. Working slowly with a firm yet gentle hand while pressing the plantains will yield the best results.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.