The first time I had fried plantains was at Starliner Diner about 15 years ago as a side dish with the Media Noche sandwich.
I had never even heard of plantains before and was surprised at the flavor. A few years later, I found them at the grocery store and decided to try to make something similar to Starliner's. Since I don't have a deep fryer, this proved to be quite a challenge, and one that I was just not up to. Nope, time to take a different tack. I search on-line and talked to some friends at work that were familiar with plantains. A coworker of Puerto Rican descent told me how to cook green plantains like a baked potato - I wasn't happy with the results, though - way too starchy for me. I was looking for the sweet flavor I'd had at Starliner, so I tried just pan frying some ripe yellow ones, then tried again with some that were much more ripe, almost all black. I've decided that somewhere in between is where I like them -yellow, at least with some black spots, heading towards black, and they shouldn't feel hard when squeezed. GourmetSleuth.com has a very nice graphic showing these stages, along with a good description of each stage and plantains in general (and some recipes, too).
If I can only find green plantains, I put them in a paper bag for a few days (or more) to ripen them up.
Making the fried plantains is pretty simple - peel, slice and pan fry in butter and oil, sprinkling some brown sugar at the end. I also like to serve the them with a sour cream and hot sauce dip.
2 very ripe plantains (almost black , but not too squishy)
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 Tablespoon of oil (vegetable, corn, even olive works o.k.)
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
4 Tablespoons of sour cream
1 Tablespoon of finely minced onion
1 teaspoon of Mexican hot sauce, such as La Victoria Salsa Brava or Bufalo Picante Clasica
Peel and slice the plantains to about 3/8" thickness
Add the sliced plantains to the hot grease, and lower the heat to medium low.
Cook until golden on the bottom, then flip them over and sprinkle them with the brown sugar.
Serve the plantains with the dipping sauce.
To make the dipping sauce:
Put the hot sauce and onion in a small bowl and add the sour cream. Blend well