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Chunky Mojo Isleño

Salinas Puerto Rico

Photo Credit – Angel Figueroa. All rights reserved.

On Sundays, people pile up their families in their cars and take off to explore the island and every corner’s signature flavors.  On today’s Domingo Criollo feature, we ‘visit’ the Southern Puerto Rico town of Salinas through this recipe for chunky mojo isleño.

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How to Make Mofongo

how to make mofongo

Mofongo is of Puerto Rico’s signature dishes.  It can be found in every corner of the island, from the humblest cafeteria to white tablecloth establishments.  This mash is traditionally prepared with green plantains, garlic, pork cracklings, and olive oil.  Although versions that feature ripe plantain, yuca, breadfruit or some combination of these are becoming more popular, the classic version will always be green plantain.  Plantains were brought over from Africa during the 16th century and were a staple of the slaves’ diet.  The mofongo we know today evolved from fufú, a root vegetable mash also from African origin.

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Puerto Rican Christmas Recipe Roundup

Puerto Rico

I think I have quizzed you on this important fact.  What country celebrates the longest holiday season?

If you answered anything other than a rousing “Puerto Rico!”, click here for my original tutorial on Puerto Rican Christmas.  One sentence summary?  Puerto Rican Christmas stretches from the day after Thanksgiving to mid January.  That gives you plenty of time to enjoy the delicacies of the season, cleanse your palate from the overdose of lechón, arroz con gandules, and coconut sweets, and then do it all over again before it is time for la Calle San Sebastián.

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Puerto Rican Roast Chicken

Puerto Rican Style Roast Chicken

Last week, after a late night at the office, I found myself scrambling to get to the supermarket on time to grab a rotisserie chicken.  At one of the grocery stores I shop at, if you get there after 8pm chances are you’ll find the chickens no one wanted – if you are lucky.  Burnt wings, torn skin, just sad looking chickens that have been sitting around for a while.  Although everyone needs a good standby place to go grab one, many publications and renowned chefs agree that learning to roast a chicken is an essential kitchen skill. Read More…

Mofongo Mashing

Necessity is the mother of invention.  Or at least of managing your kitchen with what you have.

While mortars and pestles – pilones as they are known in Spanish – are essential kitchen equipment, sometimes even your best meaning friends do not have one in their house when those cravings for mofongo hit.  Mofongo – one of Puerto Rico’s signature dishes – consists of fried plantain chunks that are smashed with fresh garlic, olive oil, a little bit of chicken stock, and crackly pork rinds or bacon. Read More…

Arroz con Maiz – Puerto Rican Style Rice with Corn

Arroz con maíz puerto rican style

On the blog’s homepage mini slide show, you may have noticed a new tag floating with the pictures of the recent posts.  Domingo Criollo is a new section I am developing to share some of my favorite Puerto Rican or Puerto Rico influenced recipes.  These recipes are easy and a great introduction to the flavors of the island.  Truth be told, you can add sofrito to many of your own favorites soups and stews and they will instantly warm up with that touch of onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro and recap that’s so distinctive to the island’s cooking.  Puerto Rican food is not spicy, but rather savory and bursting with the taste of all those delicious aromatics. Read More…

Plantain Spiders – Arañitas de Platano

plantain spiders arañitas de platano

Food is a feast for the senses.  The first point of attraction is the way a dish looks and how it is presented.  Smell wafts through the nose.  Fingers and mouth take on texture and temperature.  Before the taste buds can have their way, it all explodes with a deafening CRUNCH.

I love plantain spiders – aka. arañitas de platano.  They are bites that truly engage all five senses.  Eating them is a loud experience.  That crunch, the hit of salt, the unmistakable smell of fried plantain. Read More…

Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche (Gandules en Escabeche)

green pigeon pea escabeche

A Holiday Tradition

Gandules – also known in the rest of the Caribbean as guandules or just peas – are the traditional Puerto Rican legume of the holiday season.  I dare you to go to a Christmas party in Puerto Rico without arroz con gandules.  These days, I might even extend that dare to Thanksgiving meals in the island.  The minute you taste the sofrito laced rice and peas, you know it’s Christmas or you are reminded of the season.

Green pigeon peas can be found either canned or frozen, with fresh peas being a little harder to come by.  I was extremely lucky a few years ago.  I had a co-worker that grew them on her backyard.  When the holiday season was around the corner, she would start taking orders for her cosecha, the harvest.  Although there are few things better dishes than arroz con gandules made with fresh peas,  the convenience of canned gandules cannot be denied, especially for recipes like this one. Read More…