Mofongo Relleno de Churrasco
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
We are going to kick up the traditional mofongo recipe a notch by filling the mofongo with skirt steak! Perfectly grilled juicy steak with mashed flavorful plantains - yum! yum! If you have never had this, you are missing out! That wonderful combination of the grilled steak and the soft mofongo is amazing. Also, mofongo relleno makes the perfect complete meal and it doesn't take much work to impress all your family and loved ones!
4 green plantains
4 cloves of garlic
4 tbs butter
1 tsp adobo
1 lb skirt steak (churrasco)
1 tsp salt
4 cloves of garlic
¼ cup lime juice
½ cup olive oil
½ cup fresh cilantro
2 tbs fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Let’s start by preparing our chimichurri sauce. We’ll use some of this sauce to marinate our skirt steak, so we need to make it first. Now there are a ton of recipes for chimichurri and I’m sure you’ve made some yourself so if you have a preferred chimichurri recipe, feel free to use that. This version of chimichurri is intended to be relatively simple, in order to highlight the great beef taste in the skirt steak.
Start by chopping your garlic. I like to dice my garlic pretty finely so you don’t have huge pieces of garlic in your sauce, but feel free to chop it as finely as you see fit. Next mince your oregano. If you use fresh oregano where the leaves are still on the stem, remove the stems before chopping the leaves--the stems tend to be a little bitter. Finally, chop your cilantro. Again, it’s up to you as to how fine to chop the cilantro, although I tend to lean towards a finer chop.
Now let’s juice our limes. You can use bottled lemon or lime juice if it’s easier, although I definitely think the taste of fresh limes is my favorite. It just has a lot more aromatic notes.
Ok, now with all the components of your chimichurri prepared, let’s put it together. Just combine all your chopped herbs with a quarter cup of the lime juice, half a cup of olive oil, and a teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.
Your finished sauce should look like a slurry of finely chopped herbs and have a bold, aromatic smell.
Now let’s prepare our skirt steak. When you are selecting your steak from the store, keep a sharp lookout for the amount of marbling it has. Marbling refers to those white lines running between the muscle fibers. Skirt steak is naturally very lean, which can make it tough, so you want to select a marbled piece because it will be softer and have more flavor.
When you are picking out a steak also be aware of how much silver skin your butcher removed. Typically the back of a skirt steak is covered with a sheet of this white, fibrous connective tissue. Not to be confused with fat, this connective tissue is very tough and will not get soft when you cook it. As such, we’ll need to remove as much of that as possible. To do this, use a sharp knife to peel off the silver skin, while leaving as much meat in place as possible. Ideally you’d have your butcher do this, but depending on where you shop that might not be possible.
Once your steak is trimmed, I like to tenderize it further using a meat tenderizer. This particular tenderizer works by poking little holes in the meat, in order to break up the muscle fibers so they aren’t chewy. Make sure to work both sides of your meat for maximum tenderness.
After your meat is tenderized, cut it into pieces that will fit on the pan you’ll use to cook your steak. I’m going to use a cast iron skillet pan, so I’m cutting my skirt steak into two pieces, about 6 inches long.
Add your steak to a gallon plastic bag and then add approximately half a cup of your chimichurri sauce. Seal your bag and shake it vigorously to make sure your steak is thoroughly coated with the chimichurri sauce. When you are done, squeeze out as much air from your bag as possible before sealing. Then let this rest for 1-3 hours in the refrigerator. Obviously the longer you let it marinate the more flavor the meat will absorb. However, because your marinade has lime juice, you don't want to let it marinate more than 4 hours or else the acidic lime juice will start to make your meat gummy.
With your steak marinating in the fridge, let’s turn to preparing our mofongo. Mofongo is best eaten hot, so consider the timing on your steak in order to decide when to begin preparing your mofongo.
When you are ready to start, begin by peeling your green plantains. We’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to cut off both ends of the plantain, then cut the plantain’s skin length-wise in three or four places. Once you’ve pierced the plantain’s skin, use the knife and your fingers to begin peeling away all of the green skin. We’ve also found that soaking the plantains in hot water for a couple of minutes first can also make the peeling easier, although we didn’t do that here.
Once your plantains are peeled, cut them into pieces. When you cut your plantains, try to cut all of the pieces roughly the same size. This way, when you are frying the plantains, they will cook evenly and all of the pieces will be done at the same time. I’m cutting my plantains into pieces about 1-inch long. The size of your pieces will affect the cook time, so if you cut your pieces bigger, you’ll likely need to cook them a little longer than I did.
As you cut your plantains, place them in a container with water. This prevents the plantains from getting discolored as your wait to fry them.
Once your plantains are ready, we want to fry them at 250 degrees fahrenheit for 12 minutes. Add enough oil to your pan to fully cover your plantains, in order to avoid needing to flip them half-way through the fry and creating an uneven cooking. Once your oil has reached 250 degrees, add your plantains and fry them for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once cooked, remove your fried plantains and place them in a bowl lined with paper towel. Previously on the blog, we’ve warned you about resting fried things on paper towels because it makes them less crispy. Here, however, that’s exactly what we want, since we need to be able to smash the plantains to make the mofongo. Also, if you need to fry your plantains in multiple batches, cover your fried plantains with aluminum foil to help keep them hot.
While your plantains are frying, let’s jump back to our skirt steak. At this point, it’s done marinating so let’s get it cooking. Pull out your steak and right before cooking it, add some additional salt and pepper. Just remember that the marinade had some salt already, so don’t go overboard.
Because skirt steak is generally very lean, and very thin, I like to grill it quickly on a hot cast iron skillet. This allows the steak to develop some char on the outside, which tastes fabulous, without being overcooked.
Turn your stove on high and heat your skillet up until drops of water immediately begin sizzling and evaporate. Once hot, add your steak and cook it for two and a half minutes on one side. As the steak cooks, you’ll notice it begin to shrink, as the muscle fibers begin to lose some of their water. After the two and a half minutes, flip your steak and cook it on the other side for another two and a half minutes. Because skirt steak is so lean and thin, I like to cook it to about medium-rare or medium. Now obviously some people like to cook their steak to a different doneness. Depending on your preferences, you may need to cook it for more or less time.
Once your meat is done cooking, remove it from the heat, cover it with aluminum foil and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. This rest period is important because it allows the muscle fibers to reabsorb some of the liquid they lost during the cooking process and will make your steak moister.
Now repeat the process for your other pieces of steak. Season them with salt and pepper, then cook them on one side for two and half minutes before flipping and cooking on the other side.
Now while your steak is resting let’s prepare your mofongo.
To do this, you are going to smash your plantains in your pilon while adding butter, garlic, and adobo. There’s no one “right” way to do this, but I like to begin by adding 3 or 4 pieces of plantain to the pilon and then smashing them. Once they are smashed, add some adobo, some crushed garlic, and some butter. Some people like to just add whole cloves of garlic and then smash them into pieces in the pilon. That works perfectly fine too--I just find that to be a lot of work so I like to crush my garlic before adding it.
Once you’ve added some of your seasoning, add a couple more pieces of plantain and keep smashing everything together. Keep adding plantains, butter, garlic, and adobo as you combine all of your ingredients. Just keep in mind that for every whole plantain you add you should add about 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 clove of garlic, and a quarter teaspoon of adobo. But if you are at all unsure about the amounts, you can taste your mofongo as you go and adjust as necessary. Additionally, as you smash your mofongo be attentive to its consistency. The more you work the mofongo in the pilon, the smoother it should get. This is a matter of personal preference, although I tend to like my mofongo on the smoother side.
Once your mofongo is where you want it in terms of taste and consistency, let’s shape it into our final dish. To do this, scoop your mofongo into a bowl and pack it in tightly.
Then, turn the bowl over onto a serving dish and tap your bowl until the mofongo comes out. Now use your pilon’s pestle to make a well in the middle of your mofongo. This is where we’ll add our steak.
Speaking of steak, at this point your steak should be rested and ready to cut. In order to get the tenderest meat, you want to cut your skirt steak “against the grain.” When you look at your steak, you’ll notice that the muscles are shaped into long lines, which you can see running from back to front in this picture. So what that means is that we want to make our cuts at a 90 degree angle to these lines. To do this, I’m going to cut this piece into two smaller pieces, then I’m going to cut each of those pieces across the muscle fibers.
Once your steak is cut, pile it onto your mofongo; don't be stingy. Then top your mofongo with a little more of the chimichurri sauce, just to add some more flavor. And with that, you are all ready to dig in.