Take a bite of patacones con hogao sauce, and you’ll understand why so many Colombians profess their amor for this traditional treat. These plantain fritters served with a garlicky tomato sauce are crunch-in-your-mouth satisfying, salty-sweet, and addictively delicioso. In Colombia, patacones—like tostones in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the D.R.—are served as a side with just about any meal, or on their own, as a snack any time of day.
Paired with bright-red hogao sauce, patacones are a weekly go-to in the home of Janeth Palacio Barrera, a Spanish teacher who grew up in Medellín, Colombia and now lives with her family in Chicago. Her husband and both kids can’t get enough of them, she reports. The only problem is what kind of plantains to use, she says. Her husband likes patacones made the traditional way—with unripe green plantains, which are then fried, smashed and fried again (so rico). “I like patacones made with maduros, the yellow, more ripe plantains,” says Janeth. “They are sweeter.”
But no matter which type of plátano she uses, these fritters are a weeknight staple for their family dinners “because they’re super-rápido to make,” says Janeth. ”You don’t need a lot of time to prepare.” They’re also la comida perfecta to involve her kids in kitchen prep. Just like she used to help her mom. “Starting when I was a little girl, my mother taught me to make them, to count them, to smash them flat with a small plate.”
The Many Delicioso Uses for Hogao Sauce
The sauce made is just as loved as the fritter itself. ”If you don’t have time to make the hogao sauce, sometimes I just put salt,” says Janeth. But, she advises, do make time to simmer a big batch of hogao sauce. She tries to always keep some in her fridge, where it can last up to five days, to add flavor to favorite dishes. ”I put it on everything. For example, when I make lentils, I put hogao on them. I make garbanzos and I put hogao on them. I make pasta and use hogao. I put it on soup. On arepas, hogao!”
Hogao is slang for ahogado, which means drowned or smothered. This garlicky tomato salsa adds a touch of dulce that deliciously complements the hot, salty fritters. It’s one of those perfect food marriages—like ketchup on fries.
Serving patacones con hogao is a great way to affordably feed a crowd, adds Janeth. “We always get together as a family in Colombia, and we like to go around in big groups. My father has seven sisters, and everyone has their own family.” Since no one’s house is large enough to fit everyone, “we rent a finca, and we go out, all of us: 20 or more people. Whenever we’re there, we know it’s going to be beans, rice and patacones. Because it goes a long way and everyone likes it.”
Delicioso, easy, crowd-pleasing and affordable, patacones are essential Colombian cuisine.
To try more of Janeth’s traditional family-famous recipes, check our her pescado frito or fried whole mojarra, her mother’s famous flan de leche and her Mexican husband’s go-to guacamole, which Janeth promises lasts longer without turning brown than any other guac you’ve ever made.
Ready to Make Janeth’s Colombian Patacones con Hogao?
Photo: Michelle Ezratty MurphyMore