When most people think of Puerto Rico, a few things come to mind: the beautiful beaches, piña coladas and mofongo. Over the years this dish of fried and mashed green plantains mixed with garlic and crispy pork skin has become the poster child of Puerto Rican cuisine. And I’m not unhappy about that; it’s on my list of the foods I crave most. Mofongo is typically served with a broth (chicken or fish), but it’s also served as an appetizer. In this version I call for margarine to be mixed into the mofongo before serving; this isn’t traditional, but it’s a tip I picked up from a famous Puerto Rican restaurant.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan or large, deep skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Fry the plantains in 2 batches until golden brown on each side, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Working in batches, crush the pork cracklings, garlic and salt in a wooden mortar and pestle (a pilon) or in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the plantains and mash together to incorporate. Mash in the margarine.
Using your hands, shape the plantain mixture into 6 balls. Serve warm or hot.