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Cross-section of Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing.
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Pork Chops with Mofongo Stuffing (Chuletas Rellenas de Mofongo)

Two Puerto Rican classics morph into one delectable dish. The garlicky green plantain stuffing fills a succulent, flavorful pork chop seasoned with traditional Puerto Rican spices.
Course dinner, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine Afro-Caribbean, Puerto Rican, Puerto Rican/Hispanic
Keyword chuletas fritas, mofongo, plantains, pork
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Brining Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 833kcal

Equipment

  • oven-safe pan
  • 4 8 to 10-inch wooden skewers
  • pilón (mortar and pestle)

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 833kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 77g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 2251mg | Potassium: 729mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 1186IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 5mg