Forget Your Old Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe, Mofongo Is Where It's At

Face it South Florida, we are not Middle America. We love our Cuban coffee, Latin pastries, and Peruvian ceviche. It’s a fabulous place to call home, so why not embrace our multi-ethnic culture and skip the stuffing that comes in a box this year in favor of a beloved local side dish using a main ingredient that already grows in abundance in some of our own backyards? 

Enter mofongo. Considered the official dish of Puerto Rico, and hugely popular in the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries, mofongo is made from mashed, fried green (unripe) plantains and a whole lotta pork product. Its porous texture makes it the perfect vehicle for soaking up the pan juices from your turkey. 

Yield: 6 servings

6 green plantains
2 ounces (about 2/3 of a bag) pork rinds 
1/2 cup chopped bacon
5-6 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Adobo seasoning, to taste

  1. Fill a deep fryer with oil, and set to 375 degrees. (You can also deep-fry in a cast iron or heavy enamel pot using a candy thermometer to register the temperature.) Before frying, peel the plantains, cut them into 1-inch slices, soak them in salted water for 15 minutes, drain them, and dry them very well on paper towels.

  2. Render the chopped bacon with 1 tsp. of vegetable oil in a saute pan until crisp. Turn off the heat, then add the minced garlic. Set the mixture aside in a bowl, but don’t drain the fat.
  3. Deep-fry the plantains for about 12 minutes until golden, turning them halfway through. Test for doneness by piercing them with a knife—they should be slightly soft. 

  4. While they are still hot, mash the plantains, bacon, garlic, and pork rinds together using a potato masher. Season with Adobo to taste, but remember that the pork rinds might add some saltiness already. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice, if desired.

  1. Traditionally, mofongo is made in a pilón, or mortar and pestle, so by all means if your Abuelita has one, break it out. We advise not using a food processor, though, because you’re looking for a rustic texture, not a smooth one. It will also activate the starch in the plantains, giving your mofongo the texture of drying concrete. 

  2. Although mofongo is usually shaped into a flat-bottomed sphere or cone shape, you can skip this step and just serve it in a bowl.

  3. A sweeter (more dessert-friendly) version of mofongo, called trifongo, is made with a combination of cassava, ripe and green plantains.

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Claudia Dawson