Tajadas, or sweet plantain slices, is one of my favorite side dishes. It is something my mom used to make several times a week, especially at lunchtime. To me, there's nothing better than biting into a super-sweet and tender tajada followed by a spoonful of white rice and beans. And there's nothing worse than biting into a dry and stiff tajada. I hate it when they make them like that.
The trick for making great sweet Plantain Slices, and when I say "great" I mean super sweet and super tender tajadas, is to use very ripened plantains. The perfect plantain should have its peel almost completely black with a little bit of yellow, that way we'll know that it is ripened on the inside. If the plantain is mostly yellow the tajadas will come out dry and not as sweet and if the plantain is almost green, then that's when you make patacones (green plantain chips). It sounds pretty simple, right? But I can't tell you how many times I have been served a plate of plantains that are dry and stiff, and there's really no excuse, especially at a restaurant.
You only need a little bit of patience to ripen the plantain. My mom always told me to wrap it really well with newspaper and put it in a dark place until it ripens. The truth is that this tactic only works for me every now and then because a lot of times the plantain just turns yellow while it dries up on the inside. That's why whenever I see them super ripened at my local Latin store I always end up buying several.
Peel the plantains and cut them to your liking. At a diagonal to make tajadas (slices) as big or small as you want. Lengthwise to get two big tajadas from each plantain. Across to fry two whole pieces. Or you can also fry the whole plantain.
Heat enough oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the tajadas and fry them for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Then, remove them from the pan, drain them on paper towels and serve them while still hot as a side dish or as an appetizer.