Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Mofongo with Vegan Chicharrones

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!  The dish I made today was out of this world good and of course was all about Spanish food!  Plantains are so delicious and always make me happy.  I love them green or yellow, mashed or fried.  Yum.  I recall going with the hubby early on in our relationship to this place called Casa del Mofongo in Washington Heights and waiting in line for such a long time - well over an hour.  I was suspicious at first, especially when I saw then menu, which included everything from pork, chicken, beef and shrimp mofongo, all the way to lamb and lobster mofongo.  Ugh!  They did have a "vegetable"  mofongo, served with the least pleasing of all veggies when steamed: cauliflower and broccoli, but the mofongo itself was so delicious it didn't matter. 

Mofongo, for those of you that do not know, is a super delicious dish made of fried green plantains that have been mashed, with garlic, hot stock, generally seasoned with chicharrones, deep fried pig skin (I know!), molded into a circle and ladled with hot stock on top and around the outside.  This allows you to dip each bite into the stock for an extra bit of salty goodness.  In my case, thanks to my new favorite cookbook Viva Vegan, I was able to make this dish with, can you imagine it, vegan chicharrones?!  Vegan deep fried pork skin - or something similar in flavor anyway.  Now I have of course never before had the real version, so I do not know if it tasted similar or not, but all I know is that the bits of chewy, smoky goodness were such an awesome addition and made the dish so delicious! 

This dish is a little involved, but it is so worth it.  You don't have to prepare the chicharrones if you don't want to, but they definitely add a nice crunchy, smoky bite.  You absolutely can make them up to a few days in advance, but  just keep in mind when you make them, they require frozen tofu, which needs to be frozen for at least a day, then completely thawed before being used.

Mofongo with Vegan Chicharrones:

Serves 2
The Most Delicious Thing in the World!

Vegan Chicharrones:
1 pkg. firm tofu, frozen for at least 24 hours, then thawed
3 tablespoons gf tamari
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sherry/champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon agave
Canola oil for frying

2 green plantains, peeled
(oil to fry plantains as tostones)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 recipe chicharrones
1 cup no-chicken broth, prepared with no-chicken boullion, or preferred boullion, separated
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Begin by preparing the chicharrones.  Squeeze as much water as possible out of the thawed tofu - it will have the texture of a sponge.  Break the tofu into pieces about 1/2"-3/4" big.  They absolutely do not have to look pretty or be too uniform in size.
2.  In a medium bowl, add the tamari, liquid smoke, garlic, vinegar and agave.  Whisk together until well combined.  Add the broken up pieces of tofu and toss to coat with mixture.  It is important not to handle them too much or they will break.  Toss them around in the bowl until all the marinade has been absorbed.  Allow them to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
3.  Place about 1" of oil into a medium saucepan and heat until a small piece of the tofu dropped into the oil immediately comes to the top and starts rapidly bubbling.
4.  Once the oil is sufficiently hot, place half of the marinated tofu carefully into the oil and immediately stir it around.  The liquid in the mixture will cause it to sputter quite a bit, so be sure to take a safe step back.  Here it is important to handle the tofu as little as possible and just allow it to fry.  It will take a good 5-7 minutes of frying.  You want it to be nice and browned, chewy and crispy.  Drain with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate.  Repeat with the remaining marinated tofu. 
5.  Allow the chicharrones to cool completely before storing.  Once completely cooled, they will easily keep for 1-2 weeks in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. 

Vegan Chicharrones! Yes, there is such a thing!

6.  Prepare the tostones (twice fried green plantains).  In a large saute pan, heat about 4 tablespoons of no-taste oil over medium-high heat.  While the oil is heating, slice the peeled plantains into slices on the diagonal, about 1/4"-1/2" thick.   Place in the hot oil and fry on both sides for about 45 seconds each.  You will probably have to do this in two batches. Place on a piece of parchment paper lining your cutting board and allow to cool for a minute or two (the parchment paper is so that clean-up is made easy and oil doesn't get all over the place).  While it is cooling, fry the remaining plantains.  Take a glass jar and press firmly on each of the fried plantains until they are flattened.  Place once again in the hot oil and fry again on both sides until golden and crispy, another 45 seconds per side.  Allow the plantains to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. 
7.  Now prepare the mofongo.  In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil and allow to heat over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and saute for about a minute, or until it is fragrant and golden.  Turn off the heat.  In a small saucepan, prepare the un-chicken stock and keep it at a firm simmer.  Add the tostones to the sauteed garlic and using a pastry cutter or very strong potato masher, mash until desired texture is achieved.  This may take a while.  Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth, sea salt and black pepper and continue mashing the liquid into the tostones.  Season to taste.  Stir in the chicharrones.  Taste again and sigh in bliss.
8.  To serve, take a small mug or other circular object and scoop half of the mixture inside, pressing firmly.  Unmold the mofongo onto a plate with a depression in the center.  Ladle the hot broth around the outside of the mofongo and dig in!  Repeat this with the remaining mixture on a separate plate.  Scoop a small amount of the broth onto the spoon with each bite of the mofongo and consume in bliss.  Seriously so delicious, and to my way of thinking, even though it is not great for you, having it a couple times a year isn't such a bad thing and really makes the belly happy.  (As a bonus, the hubby said it tastes 99% like "real" mofongo - which is an amazing compliment coming from a Dominican that has eaten this all his life!)



No comments:

Post a Comment