Spring Break Sammy: Mofongo on Pork Rind Rolls!

It’s Let’s Lunch time again! Let’s Lunch is a fun and growing group of food bloggers from all over (England, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, and other places I want to travel to, as well as the U.S.), and once a month, we all post on something related to a new theme.

The topic this month: Spring break destinations, i.e., fabulous places where you’ve been or wish you were right this second. Perfect for another dank and rainy day in NYC.

I picked Puerto Rico, because I’ve not only had amazing vacations there (ah, the Ritz Carlton in San Juan, with its beach, BLT Steak’s authentic kobe beef and the casino’s super soft $2-$5 poker game), it’s been a key stopover for flights to dream spots like St. Croix.

One thing I always try to order in Puerto Rico — even when I’m just in the airport — is mofongo, this delightfully garlicky plantain-and-fried-pork-rind mash. Add some fragrantly fried ground beef, and I’m in comfort food heaven.

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MOFONGO WITH GROUND BEEF

5 green plantains
2 c. canola oil or virgin olive oil for frying
7.5 garlic cloves
7.5 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 c. ground fried pork rinds

Cost: About $13 to serve at least 4 people before adding in the price of the bread — I’d go with Portuguese rolls or burger buns.

If you make the bread, it’ll be another $3.20 or so. Just sub in 1 c. ground fried pork rinds for 1 c. flour in the master boule recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It won’t rise as much as normal dough would because the rinds don’t have gluten, but it makes for a tasty roll. You can also sprinkle some more ground rinds atop the rolls before you bake them.

Onto the filling: I don’t know the trick to peeling plantains, so after washing them, I just cut off the ends, then sliced them in thirds and used a knife to trim off the green husks.

Then I cut the fruit into 1/2-inch thick rounds.

In a deep frying pan, I poured the oil and heated it on a medium flame. Once it started bubbling, I put the plantains in, frying them until they were a nice yellow color with a slightly crispy outside, about 15-20 minutes. Raw plantains are a beige, file-folder shade, so you’ll be able to spot the difference easily.

While that was happening, I put the garlic and the oil in my food processor on high, and set that aside in a separate bowl, keeping a close eye on the plantains. Don’t let them get brown, otherwise you can’t get a cohesive mash going. Here’s what mine looked like post-fry:

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Then I tossed them with the garlic oil until the pieces were coated evenly, and mushed them a bit with a potato masher before scooping those bits into my food processor.

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I like a lot of flavor in my ground beef, so after pouring out all the plantain frying oil but about 1/4 cup, I fried the beef with paprika, garlic powder, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning (which btw has MSG, or umami, as we like to call it at home) and a little ginger powder, then salted it to taste. I didn’t measure these out, I just did it til I thought it was delicious enough on its own.

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After that, I put the beef in the plantain mash and mixed it all up.

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I haven’t surprised anyone with these sammies yet because I’m making a fresh batch of rolls (I wasn’t entirely happy with the rolls pictured, because I used my sourdough starter, and I wasn’t happy with the resulting bread). But the sandwiches are tasty, and I’ll update with critiques from Sandwich Surprisees, should I find any takers in this wretched rain.

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Want a Sandwich Surprise of your own? Just follow my Twitter account, like my Facebook page and/or subscribe to my blog here, and then comment, post or tweet to me. If Iā€™m in your area (as you can see, I do road trip it sometimes) or if you’re taking a trip to New York City, you could be surprised with a sammy soon!