Patacones are made from green plantains and are a great substitute for french fries. Select dark green plantains with no hint of yellow for making patacones. The lighter the green is, the closer the plantain is to ripening, and if it's turning yellow, the quality of the patacones will suffer. Peel the green plantains over the sink, with the water running and don't let the juice get on your clothes. After peeling cut the plantains into slices about ½ inch thick. Deep fat fry the slices until they are just slightly golden colored. Take them from the oil and place them on a paper towel for a couple of minutes. Now take your flat sided river rock.... Oh, did I forget to mention you need a flat sided river rock? Well, you don't HAVE to have one, but if you want to make authentic, traditional Panamanian Patacones, you really should have a flat sided river rock. Nora's is about 2 ½ X 3 inches, roughly ovoid with one flat side and is a perfect fit for her hand. It was a gift from a friend and it's been in continous use for about 30 years. OK, for now mash each slice with something flat until it is about half its original thickness. You can go to the Pacora River to find your own rock later. Sprinkle the slices lightly with water and let sit for about five minutes. Return the flattened slices to the hot fat and fry until they are a light golden brown. Salt to taste. One plantain makes enough patacones for one person, though you may find yourself eating more.

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