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Patacones con Hogao, or Plantain Fritters with Tomato Sauce

patacones hogao

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?

Colombian Patacones con Hogado

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Janeth Palacio Barrera Cuisine: Colombian
Servings

5

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • The Patacones
  • 3 3 green plantains

  • 2 to 3 cups 2 to 3 vegetable oil

  • 1 tsp 1 salt, for sprinkling on the patacones

  • The Hogao Sauce
  • 4 to 5 4 to 5 Roma tomatoes

  • 1 small 1 red pepper, finely chopped

  • 3 to 4 3 to 4 scallions, top sections chopped

  • 1 1 white onion, large, chopped

  • 4 cloves 4 garlic, minced

  • 2 Tbsp 2 olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 fresh cilantro, minced

Directions

  • Make the Hogao Sauce
  • Remove the tomatoes’ seeds and interior membranes. Dice the tomatoes.
  • Seed, de-membrane and finely chop the red pepper.
  • Peel and dice the onion.
  • In a frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium low. Add the tomatoes, onion, red pepper, scallions, garlic and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, to make sure the vegetables don’t stick to the pan.
  • Uncover, stir and sauté for 5 last minutes, uncovered. Taste and adjust the salt, as needed. Add a final drizzle of olive oil. Set aside while you fry the patacones.
  • Fry the Plantain Patacones
  • In a large frying pan on a burner set to medium-high, add the vegetable oil and heat to about 350°.
  • Peel and cut the green plantains into thick slices, one-inch wide each.
  • Add the plantain rounds to the hot oil in batches so that they don’t touch. After about 2 minutes, turn them over and fry the second side for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • When both sides are light-golden brown, scoop out the plantains with a slotted spoon.
  • Lay the fritters on a paper towel-lined plate, to drain the excess oil. Let them rest for several minutes to slightly cool before you flatten them.
  • Lay a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on your plantain press, tortilla press or a heavy round pan or wide can. Press each plantain, one at a time, so that each is about ¼ of an inch thick.
  • Once all the fritters are pressed, return them in batches to the hot oil for their second fry. This time, leave each plantain in for just 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.
  • Scoop from the hot oil and again rest on a paper towel-lined plate to drain their excess oil.
  • Sprinkle with salt. Add a spoonful of hogao sauce on each patacón. Garnish with minced cilantro and a last sprinkling of salt. Serve them quickly, while still hot.

Notes

  • Roma tomatoes are ideal for hogao. Bright red, tasty and firm, they hold up when simmering for half an hour with garlic, onions and scallions and yield a spicy-rich sweetness.
  • Alternately, many recipes for hogao sauce call for scoring the tomatoes (cutting a thin X at the bottom), boiling for about 1 minute, and then peeling before sauteeing. Muy delicioso.

Photo: Michelle Ezratty Murphy

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