Mofongo is a lovely traditional dish in Puerto Rico made from green plantains, chicharrones (fried pork skin, aka pork rinds), and garlic. It is generally served one of two ways: as small balls served as a side dish, or formed in a cup or ramekin and stuffed full of shredded meat, most typically roasted pork. When it is stuffed with meat it is called mofongo relleno and is a delightful meal on its own! It can be served with or without a flavorful tomato-based sauce.
Like my recipe for pasteles (tropical starches stuffed with meat and served like a tamale), I learned to make mofongo from my sweet Puerto Rican mother-in-law. This is her family's authentic recipe. Your family's may be different, and that's alright! She doesn't serve hers with a sauce, so I'm not including a recipe for one here.
One of the best parts about this recipe is that it is naturally gluten-free, Paleo, and even AIP! I can remember when I first went AIP to address my leaky gut syndrome (now cured!) I was so incredibly grateful to be able to eat such a flavorful and delicious meal. It almost tasted too good to believe it was totally AIP!
Green plantains are probably my favorite starch ever and they agree with my system very well. Not everyone tolerates plantains, though, especially when first going on the AIP. Please use care if trying this recipe and you've just started out on AIP. According to Jessica's advice in The Loving Diet (which I think is the single MUST READ book if you are on or considering the AIP) for some people just beginning a healing journey (especially if there are major digestive issues), it is best to stick to easier to digest things like pumpkin, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and celery root for starches. If that's you, then bookmark or pin this recipe and come back to it a little later :-)
If you have a local Latin grocery store with a deli or meat counter, they will usually make their own fresh chicharrónes. I know the meat is not coming from pastured pigs, but hot damn do fresh chicharrónes taste AMAZING. When I lived in Miami Beach we would walk over to this big Cuban cafeteria and buy the fresh chicharrónes to go in our mofongo and it was the best ever. You can also make your own chicharrónes from fresh pork belly or pork skin. And Barefoot Provisions sells pork rinds made from pastured pigs.
You can also substitute crispy fried bacon but I personally do not like doing that - it doesn't have the correct texture or taste without the crunchy skin!
NOTE: If you are new to working with plantains, here's my helpful video for how to peel them correctly. I use a green banana to demonstrate in this video but the process is exactly the same for green plantains.
Puerto Rican Mofongo Relleno (Green Plantains Stuffed wtih Meat, Paleo, AIP)
Mofongo is one of my all-time favorite dishes. I learned to make it from my Puerto Rican mother-in-law and this is her authentic family recipe. The best part is it is naturally AIP and Paleo, woohoo!
- 3 green plantains (must be totally GREEN)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup crushed chicharrones (fresh from a Latin market or deli is best) or pork rinds. You can also substitute with cooked crispy bacon or mix bacon and pork rinds.
- 2-4 TB olive oil (adjusted to taste - see notes inside recipe)
- 1/2 to 1 TB coarse unrefined salt (adjust depending on how salty your chicharrones, pork rinds, or bacon is)
- 4+ TB fat for frying plantains (lard or other animal fat preferred, coconut oil not recommended)
- OPTIONAL: 1 tsp dried oregano
- If serving as mofongo relleno, 1 pound of shredded cooked meat of choice, warmed. You can use leftover roasted beef, pork, or chicken or for more Latin flavor you can use the meat filling from my pasteles recipe, vaca frita, or lechon asado.
- This recipe begins the same way tostones/patacones does: peel the green plantains by cutting off both the tips and slicing lengthwise down the peel in 2 or 3 places. Lift off the peel with your fingers. Clean up any spots where the peel wouldn't come off by using your knife. Watch the video above to see how to do it!
- Slice the peeled plantains into discs about 3/4" to 1" wide.
- Add about 4 TB of your chosen fat for frying (I prefer lard) to a frying pan and heat over medium for 2 minutes or until hot.
- Carefully add plantain slices to the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the discs have turned a darker golden color but have not yet browned (defintely don't let them brown!) All cooktops perform differently so keep an eye on yours to make sure they do not burn. You should be able to easily pierce them with a fork when they are ready and you will notice a distinct golden color. NOTE: Make sure there is sufficient fat in the pan, add additional if the plantains soak up too much. You'll get to use any leftover cooking fat later in the recipe, so don't worry about being wasteful.
- While the plantains are frying, work on the rest of the ingredients. Crush the chicharrones, pork rinds, or crispy bacon into small crumbles and add to a large stainless steel mixing bowl. Peel garlic cloves and either use a garlic press or finely mince the garlic with a knife and add to bowl. Add the salt to the bowl as well (start with 1/2 TB and taste the dough to see if it needs more.) If stuffing with pre-cooked shredded meat, heat up your meat now so it's warm when it's time to stuff the mofongo.
- Now, here is where the recipe departs from tostones. Remove the fried plantain slices from the pan and add to mixing bowl. I like to use a potato masher to mash the plantains and further crush the chicharrones. You must add sufficient fat to the dough for it to not be too dry - first, pour any remaining lard from your frying pan in and if more is necessary, add olive oil 1 TB at a time. Mash and mix the dough until well mixed. You should be able to roll the dough into balls without it falling apart - if it crumbles it's too dry and needs more fat. You can also taste a bite and if it feels dry, add more fat, mix, and taste again.
- If serving as a side, roll into balls the size of golf balls and serve and enjoy!
- If serving as the main dish stuffed with meat (mofongo relleno), use a wide-bottomed drinking glass, small bowl, ramekin, or mortar and pestle. Apply a small amount of olive oil to the inside to help the finished product release from the sides. Press a portion of the dough to form a bowl-shape, leaving a hollow middle for stuffing meat inside. Press it in there HARD. You'll be surprised how much will fit (that's what she said?) My husband and I split the dough in 2 portions between us, but you can make 3 or 4 smaller servings if you prefer. Stuff with meat. Place your vessel over a plate and quickly flip it over to release it. Tap on the top and sides to help it out. You may need to use a butter knife to help release the edges so it falls easily onto the plate.
- If you have any shredded meat leftover that didn't fit, serve it around the mofongo on the side. Garnish with cilantro.
- Best served FRESH and does not reheat well. Scale the recipe down if you won't eat it all in one sitting.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Total time: 20 mins.