Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing is a Puerto Rican dish of garlic-studded, mashed green plantains baked inside flavorful, Puerto Rican-style pork chops. The result is a taste of two of Puerto Rico’s most beloved recipes in one bite.
You can eat pork chops with mofongo stuffing on their own, as it’s a filling dish, or serve them with a simple garden salad. Either way, you’re going to be blown away by this recipe.
Where Are Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing From?
Pork chops with mofongo, pronounced moh-FOHN-go, stuffing (or chuletas rellenas de mofongo) is a Puerto Rican dish. The brine they soak in plays on the flavors that Puerto Ricans commonly use to flavor this popular meat. Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish that often gets a filling of protein, like fried pork, seafood, or chicken.
Here, we’re reversing its role and making it the center of this recipe’s universe.
What Part of the Pig Do Pork Chops Come from?
Pork chops come from the loins of a pig, which are the lats on a human body. The two loins are large chunks of the pig’s body cut from the upper middle to the lower middle of its back.
What Do I Need to Make This Recipe?
You need thick-cut pork chops, a large yellow onion, one head of garlic, dried oregano leaves, bay leaves, peppercorns, water, white wine vinegar, brown sugar, and Adobo con azafrán. These ingredients are for the brine, which imparts tons of juiciness and flavor and prevents the meat from drying out.
Adobo con azafrán is a seasoning salt that contains saffron or a yellow coloring agent like turmeric. If you make it from scratch using my adobo recipe, it has saffron. A store-bought adobo will likely have an artificial yellow coloring agent or dye added to it. Adobo con azafrán gives the pork chops a beautiful color after cooking. You can replace it with regular adobo if that’s all you have on hand.
What’s the Best Cut of Pork for Stuffed Pork Chops?
The best cut of meat for pork chops with mofongo stuffing is a thick-cut pork chop, which is about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick. Regular or thin-cut won’t work here because it won’t give you enough room to cut a pocket. Double-cut chops are just too thick for the cooking time here (and more expensive).
Lay your chop onto a cutting board. With your hand flat on top of the surface of the meat, use a thin boning knife to make an incision 1/4 inch up from the bottom of the chop’s side. This is the start of what becomes a pocket for the mofongo stuffing.
Put the blade back where you started and make another pass with the knife to cut further towards the bone. Start pulling back the meat as the two halves separate. The goal is to make a pocket, so leave some meat attached on either side (as pictured), but go in as deep as you can in the center.
Once you have pockets in all of your chops, begin the brine. You can make the pockets for stuffing your pork chops as soon as you get them home from the butcher and store them covered in the fridge (up to 3 days) until you’re ready to proceed with the recipe.
How Do I Make Juicy Pork Chops?
No one likes a dry pork chop. Most of the time, dryness in meat is the result of overcooking or not brining it. When you brine meat, you’re forcing the meat to retain water through osmosis. It’s also forcing flavor from your brine into the meat. The result is meat that is harder to dry out and tastes amazing.
How Long Do I Brine the Meat?
The key to juicy pork chops is brining them in a brine for at least one hour before cooking them.
Making a brine is crazy-easy. Add the water, white wine vinegar, adobo con azafrán, brown sugar, oregano, peppercorns, and bay leaves to a pot and bring the liquid up to a boil over medium-high heat.
Stir the liquid to encourage the dissolution of the salt and sugar crystals. Allow the liquid to boil for a full minute once it comes up to a boil. Then, turn the heat off. Remove the pot from the stove and cool the brine to room temperature.
Once the brine is at or just warmer than room temperature, pour it into a deep baking dish and stir in some ice. This ice ensures the brine is cold, so it doesn’t start cooking the meat. Nestle the meat in the brine, but make sure you open the pocket a bit so some brine can sneak in there, too.
Cover the dish and brine the meat for at least one hour, but no longer than three hours.
What is Mofongo Stuffing?
Mofongo is a mash of green plantains and pork rinds heavily flavored with garlic and oregano. Often, mofongo is the foundation for saucy or fried proteins. Most restaurants in Puerto Rico serve mofongo in a dome shape, smothered in a protein simmered in salsa Criolla (Creole sauce). Another popular way to enjoy mofongo is with chunks of fried meat like pork or chicken.
Where Does Mofongo Come From?
Most Hispanic Caribbean (and Afro-Caribbean) islands have a version of mofongo called by other names. But, mofongo is a Puerto Rican recipe.
For this mofongo, you need two very green, large plantains, pork rinds, garlic, oregano leaves, pepper, adobo, and chicken stock as needed. It also helps if you have a large pilón, or a mortar and pestle. Buy the airy pork rinds to make your mofongo, not the artisanal ones. The latter is super thick and has pieces of the pork belly still attached, which makes your mofongo gummy when you mash everything together.
What’s the Best Way to Peel Green Plantains?
Peeling the green plantains is the hardest thing to do when making mofongo. Green plantains aren’t ripe, so they’re very hard. This is great flavor-wise but can hurt if you don’t know how to peel them correctly.
To cut a green plantain:
- Cut off both stem ends using a paring knife.
- Make a slit down the back side and inner curve of the plantain using the tip of your knife.
- Use the fleshy part of your thumb to wiggle under the slit you made in the peel, pushing it up and away from the plantain. Continue moving up the plantain until the peel is removed.
Once the peels are gone, you can slice the plantains into 1-inch thick chunks and soak them in salted water for 5 minutes.
How Long Do the Plantains Need to Cook Before Making Mofongo?
Bring 1-inch of vegetable or corn oil up to 350°F (178°C) in an oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat. You want an oven-safe frying pan for this recipe so you can make the entire recipe all in one pan.
Drain the plantains well and pat them dry with a few paper towels. Once the oil is at temperature, put the plantain slices into the pan and fry them for 2 minutes on each side. Try not to crowd the pan, or they’ll boil instead of fry. You know your plantains are done if the tip of your knife goes in and out of their centers without resistance.
Remove the plantains from the oil and allow them to drain on a paper towel-lined platter until you’re ready to make the mofongo. Pour all but 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 milliliters) of the oil out of the pan and put it on a cool burner for now.
Can I Air Fry the Plantains for Monfongo Stuffing?
To air-fry plantains for mofongo, pat them dry and toss them in 2 tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil. Arrange them on the wire tray of an air fryer, so each has space around it. Cook the plantain slices on the air fryer setting for 5 minutes at 400°F (204°C), flipping them over halfway through the air frying time.
While waiting for the plantains to cook or drain, remove the pork chops from the fridge. Use tongs to pull them from the brine and give them a quick rinse under cold water. Rinse inside the pocket to ensure any peppercorns or leaves are washed off. Pat the pork chops dry inside and out using paper towels. Set them on a platter to warm up a bit.
Can I Make Mofongo Without a Pilón?
Add the garlic, oregano, black pepper, and adobo to your largest pilón (mortar and pestle). Mash the garlic until it forms a chunky paste. Add a handful of the pork rinds to the pilón and a handful of the fried plantains.
Use the pestle to mash the plantains and pork rinds to a thick stuffing consistency. Use a wide, flat spoon to move the mofongo around in the pilón as you mash it. This ensures your mofongo is a smooth consistency and not full of large chunks.
Scrape 3/4s of the mofongo into a mixing bowl, leaving the rest in the pilón to help you mash the remaining pork rinds and plantains. Continue mashing the remaining pork rinds and plantains until all are mashed.
If you don’t have a pilón, make the mofongo in a food processor, but mash the garlic separately before adding it. Pulse the ingredients until all large chunks are broken down into smaller bits.
How Do I Keep the Mofongo Stuffing From Coming Out of the Pork Chops?
Once the mofongo is prepared, stir everything together to combine the batches. To avoid ending up with a dry mofongo, add the chicken stock, 1/4 cup at a time to hydrate the mofongo. Add the chicken stock until the mofongo resembles a wet bread pudding. You don’t want puddles of liquid in the bowl, but you want the mofongo to feel wet to the touch. It will dry out as it cooks.
Use the same wide flat spoon to spoon 1/4 of the mofongo into the pocket you created in the pork chops. Weave a 10-inch wooden skewer 1/16-inch from the edge of the pork chop to seal in the mofongo. Next, use your fingers to press the mofongo stuffing into an even layer inside the pocket.
Repeat this with the remaining pork chops and mofongo.
Can I Stuff the Meat Ahead and Store It In the Fridge?
You can stuff pork chops with stuffing and store them (covered) in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking them. Just be sure to allow the meat to warm up slightly at room temperature before you sear them.
Why Do I Have to Sear the Meat First?
Put the pan you used earlier back onto the burner and heat it over medium-high heat. While waiting for it to heat, preheat your oven to 350°F (178°C).
Once the oil in the pan begins to shimmer, press the stuffed pork chops down into the pan. Pressing it down allows all of the meat’s surface to come into contact with the hot pan. This gives you an even sear. Sear the meat on both sides for 3-4 minutes or until it doesn’t stick when you push it with your tongs.
When you lift the pork chops to flip them to the other side, flip them with the pocket facing up, not down. This will ensure the stuffing stays inside the pocket.
Searing the pork chops is essential because it caramelizes the meat, adding flavor. Without this step, the pork chops will not taste as good as they should.
What Is a Safe Internal Temperature for Stuffed Pork Chops?
Slide the hot pan into the preheated oven once both sides of the chops are seared. Bake the pork chops in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the mofongo stuffing reads 165°F (74°C).
Pork chops only need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). However, you must cook stuffed pork chops to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure the stuffing is free of bacteria.
How Do I Serve Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing?
Once the pork chops reach a safe temperature, carefully remove the pan from the oven.
Use tongs to remove the pork chops from the frying pan to a platter and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the wooden skewer from each pork chop and serve. If you have any pan juices (or au jus), you can also spoon those over the chops.
You can serve pork chops with mofongo stuffing on their own since it’s a filling recipe.
What Side Dishes Go Well with This Dish?
If you have heartier eaters, consider serving your pork chops with mofongo stuffing with:
I try to keep the sides light since the plantains are starchy and filling.
How Do I Store Leftovers?
Store leftover pork chops with mofongo stuffing in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat the pork chops, microwave them on high for 1 minute or until warmed through. You can also reheat pork chops in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
Can I Freeze Stuffed Pork Chops?
You can freeze stuffed pork chops both before and after baking. Wrap the pork chops individually in a layer of foil and freeze for up to two months. Thaw them in the fridge before cooking (if you froze them raw) or reheating (if you froze them cooked). Freezing pork chops wrapped individually is a great meal prep option for smaller families or individuals.
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Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing (Chuletas Rellenas de Mofongo)at Sense & Edibility
- oven-safe pan
- 4 8 to 10-inch wooden skewers
- pilón (mortar and pestle)
For the Brine
- 3 cups (750 milliliters) water
- 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup (90 grams) Adobo con azafrán or Adobo
- 1/4 cup, packed (55 grams) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon (2 grams) dried oregano leaves
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and quartered
- 1 head garlic cut across its width
- 4 1-inch thick pork chops
- 4 cups ice cubes
For the Mofongo Stuffing
- vegetable or corn oil for frying
- 2 large green plantains peeled and sliced 1-inch thick
- 4 large cloves (about 2 tablespoons or 16 grams) garlic peeled
- 3/4 teaspoon (2 grams) black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) Adobo
- 1 teaspoon (1 grams) dried oregano leaves
- 2 cups (35 grams) plain pork rinds chicharrones
- 1/2-3/4 cup (125-188 milliliters) chicken stock or as needed
For the Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing
- 2 teaspoons (4 grams) Adobo con Azafrán or Adobo (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) black pepper
Prepare the Brine
- Add the water and white wine vinegar to a 3-quart pot. Next, add the Adobo con azafrán, brown sugar, black peppercorns, oregano leaves and the bay leaves to the pot. Stir these into the water until the Adobo and brown sugar just begin to dissolve, or 1 minute.
- Add the quartered onion and both garlic halves to the mixture in the pot and bring this up to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture occasionally to encourage the adobo and sugar to dissolve.Once the liquid in the pot begins to boil, start a timer and boil it for 1 full minute.
- Turn the stove off after 1 minute of boiling. Remove the pot from the stove and allow it to cool while you prepare the pork chops.
Cut the Pork Chops
- Lay once pork chop out onto a cutting board. With your hand placed flat on top of the chop, make a deep incision into the pork chop (parallel to your hand) 1/4-inch up from the cutting board to make a pocket in the pork chop.
- Repeat this pocket-cutting step with the 3 remaining pork chops.
Brine the Pork Chops for At Least 1 Hour
- After you cut pockets into the pork chops, the brine should be room temperature or just a bit warmer. Add the ice to the brine to cool it completely.
- Next, pour the brine into a deep baking dish or container. Nestle the pork chops into the brine, lifting the top flap of meat to get some of the brine in the pocket.
- Cover the dish with plastic film or a lid and brine the chops for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 3 hours.
Fry the Plantains
- Add enough oil to an oven-safe 12-inch frying pan to reach halfway up its side. Heat the oil to 350°F (178°C) over medium-high heat.
- Add the plantain slices to the oil once it reaches temperature and fry them for 2 minutes on each side, or until the tip of a paring knife slides in and out with no resistance.
- Remove the plantain slices from the oil to a paper towel-lined platter or plate to blot up excess oil. Turn the burner off. Take the pan of oil off the stove and, carefully, pour out all but 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) of the oil. Place the pan on a cool burner to use later.
Prepare the Mofongo
- Add the cloves of garlic to a pilón (mortar and pestle), along with the oregano, black pepper, and adobo. Smash the garlic until it forms a chunky paste.
- Next, add a handful of the pork rinds and a handful of the fried plantain slices. Mash these until pasty, using a spoon to scrape the sides and incorporate the chunkier pieces into the mofongo.
- Scrape 3/4s of this first batch into a mixing bowl. Leave the remaining 1/4 to help with mashing. Add another handful of pork rinds and plantain slices to the pilón. Mash as you did before, then scrape 3/4s this batch into the mixing bowl with the first batch.Continue mashing in this way until the plantains and pork rinds are all mashed.
- Scrape all the contents of the final batch into the mixing bowl. Use a spoon to incorporate all of the batches, while pouring in the chicken stock 1/4 cup at a time to hydrate the mofongo. The mofongo should be the consistency of a loose (or "wet") stuffing when its done. Add as much or as little chicken stock as you need to achieve that texture.
Stuff the Pork Chops
- Remove the container of brining pork chops from the fridge. Fish out the pork chops and give them a quick rinse under cold, running water to remove the leaves and peppercorns. Don't forget to rinse inside the pocket as well. Pat the pork chops dry and lay them on a cutting board to warm up for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, stuff the pocket you made in the pork chop with 1/4 of the mofongo stuffing. Weave a toothpick up, down, and back up to seal the pocket shut. Press the top of the pork chop to evenly distribute the mofongo stuffing into an even layer.Repeat this process with the remaining pork chops and stuffing.
Cook the Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (178°C).Put the pan with the reserved oil back on the burner and turn the temp to medium-high.
- Once the oil in the pan begins to shimmer, press the stuffed pork chops down onto the hot surface. Allow the pork chops to sear, without moving them, for 4 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to carefully flip the pork chops to the other side. Try to flip the pork chop with the opening (the side with the skewer) up instead of down. This will prevent too much stuffing from falling out.
- Sear the second side of the pork chops for another 4 minutes. Once the searing time has elapsed, slide the pan into the preheated oven and bake the pork chops for another 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer, inserted into the center of the stuffing reads 165°F (74°C).
- Remove the pan from the oven to the stove.Use tongs to remove the pork chops from the pan to a platter to rest for 10 minutes before serving and enjoying.
Swaps and Substitutions:
- Replace the white wine vinegar with distilled white vinegar.
- Use regular adobo if you don't have adobo con azafrán.
Tips and Techniques:
- Try to make the meat on either side of the incision of equal size and try make the pocket go as close to the bone as you can. This ensures a deep pocket for holding your mofongo stuffing.
- Adding the pork chops to a still-warm brine will begin cooking them. Instead, chill it thoroughly with the ice to inhibit the growth of bacteria.
- Brining the pork for too long will cause the meat to feel tough after it's cooked.
- You will know the oil is at frying temperature when tiny bubbles surround the handle of a wooden spoon when placed in the oil.
- The amount of batches you will have to mash depends on how large or small your pilón is.
- It's always best to allow cold meat to warm up before cooking to ensure it cooks evenly.
- If you fail to press the mofongo into an even layer, it may not cook to the proper (safe) temperature in time. It also makes it more difficult to get an even sear.