My budding love affair with mofongo started after my recent adventures around San Juan PR, have a cheeky read here if you fancy it ‘Old San Juan, Puerto Rico’.
Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish consisting of mashed plantain as the main ingredient. It differs in terms of how it’s made, additional ingredients and what it’s served with and so I’ve kept this recipe super simple. I’d say this is a classic take on mofongo and you can eat it either on its own or with whatever you choose (traditionally meat or poultry), personally I could eat a whole plate of it on its own and be super happy about it. Having made this recipe a few times, I’ve come to find a way that works for me and yet doesn’t compromise the flavour in any way.
This dish is made up of two elements, the mashed plantain and the broth. The broth takes the longest and is made separately, it can either be added into the mixture at the end (this can be too moist for some people) OR drizzle it over your dome at the end and add as much or as little as you like. It’s the broth that takes the most time here.
For all you fellow gluten free bunnies out there, you’ll be delighted to know that mofongo as a whole is GF. In fact, if someone tells you that it’s not… they’ve put something funky in there, don’t try it.
I’m telling you up front that this can be a little time consuming so you need to plan your time (it’ll be worth it I swear). Overall this will take around 1hr 25 minutes and that requires you to be near the kitchen in order to keep checking up etc.
PORTION FOR 2 PEOPLE
3 Unripened Plantain
1lb (approx) Belly of Pork (or Bacon)
1 Onion (small to medium)
8-10 Fresh Garlic Cloves
Make sure your plantain are definitely unripe. Bright green and very hard. You’ll know they are the correct ripeness because they won’t smell, feel or look much like a banana at all, they don’t even peel properly. If the plantain are too ripe, this will not achieve the true Mofongo taste. It will taste sweet and banana-ry! Wrong.
HERE WE GO!
Prepare all of your ingredients, chop what needs to be chopped so when the time comes, all you need to do is fling it into a cooking pot and set your timer.
Chop one whole small/medium white onion into relatively small pieces and set aside on the board.
As and when you make this dish a couple of times, you can decide whether you want to use less garlic or (like me) add even more!
Thinly slice your garlic cloves. Set aside in a bowl with your already chopped onion.
Grab a nice healthy handful of cilantro and roughly chop it up.
Clear your board so nothing is touching the raw pork belly.
You’ll notice just how fatty pork belly is. Within reason it’s all part of the flavour that makes up mofongo. Just to make it ever so slightly less bad for you, dispose of the fatty ends. You still get all the flavours you need, trust me.
Chop the remainder of the meat into rectangles about one inch in thickness.
You’ll need to add around three tablespoons of olive oil to your saucepan / cooking pot and heat. Once hot, add your pork belly and feel the sizzle. Brown the meat, not burn, to maintain the moisture of the meat. It will take about eight minutes on a high heat to brown.
Turn the heat down to medium and add in your chopped onion and garlic and stir in.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Just a sprinkle is fine as later on, you can add more or less to hit your palette in all the right places.
Next, it’s actually time to turn it into a broth. You’ll need approximately four cups of water. For all you fellow Brits… that’s about 940ml
Pour two thirds of it into your pot with the ingredients and save the rest. As the broth cooks it will burn off water and you can keep adding to it when necessary. All the remaining water from the jug should be used by the time the cooking time is over.
Add the cilantro into the broth and stir.
Turn the heat down to a low simmer and get your timer out. For this is where the magic happens. This needs to be on simmer for around one whole hour. You can keep the lid off and stir occasionally. During the hour, as and when the water level starts to drop, top it up with the remaining water until the jug is empty.
If you’ve followed the recipe correctly then hopefully a whole hour should have passed. Keep your broth on simmer and give it a nice stir. It’s now time to prepare the main event. Plantain…
Now, as I said before… plantain are different and not like your standard lunchtime banana. They don’t really peel. Cut both the ends off then slice down from top to bottom.
Open up outwards and it’s more of a de-shelling type process. Remove all skin. You’ll firstly notice the smell, it’s super fresh and personally it reminded me of cucumber. Secondly, the super super sticky liquid is normal. Prepare to scrub your fingers at least three times to get it off.
Cut your plantain into thick discs of around one inch.
Add two heaped tablespoons of olive toil o a frying pan. Turn the heat up high. Pop the plantain in. They need around five to seven minutes all together. While these are cooking grab a sieve and bowl. You’ll need to sieve the broth, separating the solids: meat/onion/garlic. You’ll need both the solid mixture and the broth at different stages, so keep them both handy. Let it strain for a few minutes while you finish the plantain.
After the five to seven minutes your plantain should look like this.
Add your pork belly mixture – the sieved solids (minus the broth) to a bowl.
Add the plantain and mash. Traditionally in Puerto Rico a pestle and mortar is used… However, I don’t own one of those, so I had to be a little creative to find an alternative in the kitchen but it worked perfectly well 🙂
It can be a tricky texture so just keep adding the plantain gradually as you go along. Really give it some elbow welly…
Add a little salt and pepper here for flavouring.
This should take about 10 minutes to make sure all the big lumps are out. Just to help with mashing you can add around four tablespoons of the broth. Not too much, as you need it to keep it’s shape and not be too sloppy.
It should look like this when finished, see the little shreds of pork and browned plantain?
You can serve it with whatever you like but, on this occasion I just had a cheeky portion on its own.
You then drizzle the broth all over, as much as you like 🙂 I like to virtually drown mine which doesn’t make it overly picturesque so I’ll let you see for yourself ha. Yummy!
I hope you enjoyed my recipe, do let me know how your mofongo turns out…