Patacones are served like (but instead of) french fries in Panama. They come in a basket or in a parchment cone with ketchup or other dipping sauces. I served them with guacamole, but they would be awesome with a cilantro aioli of some kind, don't you think?
Thicker slices of fried plantains are called to tostones, but the recipe is exactly the same. You might hear these called tostones or vice versa. The way we were served tostones in Panama was always as a platform for an appetizer like pulled pork or ceviche. Kind of like a tortilla.
There are two ways to make patacones. You can either fry them twice or boil them then fry them once. I decided on the second approach and it worked great. This is a great alternative for kid-friendly foods.
1/2 cup coconut oil
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Peel the plantains and chop into 3/4," diagonal slices. Drop the plantain pieces into the boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, until the plantains are fork-tender. My plantains were pretty soft to begin with, so this didn't take long at all, maybe a minute.
Remove the plantains to a plate lined with paper towels. Melt coconut oil over medium high in a medium skillet. You want the frying temperature to be 350º. While that heats up, smash your plantains. Sandwich a few pieces of plantains between paper towels, then, using a small frying pan, smash the plantains down to flatten them out to 1/8" thick. Fry the plantains in batches, until the edges get crispy and the centers are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt, immediately. Serve with guacamole or aioli.