Monday, December 01, 2008

Making Mofongo for Thanksgiving

My daughter Annie asked me to make mofongo stuffing for our Thanksgiving turkey. She had had some about 12 years ago when she was visiting my sister in Connecticut during her first year? at Calvin College or was it in Houghton? I can't remember. One thing for sure, my sister Doris is a great cook and to be asked to make something as well as she does, well that's quite a bit of pressure, but anyway I tried. I have made mofongo before but never as stuffing or dressing. When I was married my ex enjoyed mofongo with chicarron or bacon, whichever was available, so on Thanksgiving not being in Bayamon, I went with bacon. Since we were going to church on Thanksgiving, and knowing the turkey was around 14 pounds, I thought it best to go ahead and put the turkey in the oven by 7:00 am and make the mofongo as dressing once we got back from church. Stuffing slows down the cooking of the turkey anyway. If I started frying all the plantains and using the pilon (Mortar and pistil) the turkey would not get into the oven until 8, so I went ahead and put it in. When we got home from church the turkey was fully cooked and we had time to finish our cooking. To my surprise the mofongo turned out pretty well. I didn't want it to be hard because it wasn't going to be served with caldo or chicken broth which helps to soften the fried plantain.

What I did was this:

First I fried chopped bacon till it was crispy. Then I drained it on a paper towel. Then, I peeled four very green plantains under running water in the sink. The running water helps to keep your hands free of the sticky liquid that comes out of the peeling. After that I cut the plantains into one inch and a half thickness and placed them in salt water. Before frying them though, to reduce oil splatter in the medium heat skillet, I individually dried each one on a paper towel before placing them in the hot vegetable oil. As I was frying them I realized they needed to be thinner to make sure they would be fully cooked. So I split the thicker ones in half. After frying each batch thoroughly and turning them several times I turned off the stove and drained them on a paper towel.

Next I had two pilones. In the first one I had garlic (about 4 to 5 medium size pieces) and added about a half teaspoon of salt and mashed these ingredients until I formed a creamy paste. Then I added about a 1/4 cup of olive oil, more or less into the first pilon. In the second pilon which was larger was reserved for mashing the fried plantains, I added about a tablespoon of olive oil to coat it. As I placed about four or five small pieces of plantains, I added some pieces of bacon, and some strands of garlic and then mashed them with the pistil. I mashed them until they were reshaped into hollow bells. If they seemed dry, I would add some olive oil from the first pilon with a bit of garlic and some broth or drippings from the turkey which I had reserved in a small bowl in my working area. To keep them warm we placed them in a corningware bowl and covered it. I think we kept it warm in the oven until ready to serve, which was only minutes later. I was really pleased with the results. In fact, I think I will make some for Christmas in Puerto Rico. I never knew just how well it would taste with turkey. So that is how you make Mofongo Dressing. Try it, you might like it.