Tag Archives: Puerto Rican Soul Food

Sounds like an Insult, Tastes like a Dream

27 Jan


Looks pretty funky too!


4 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 cups beef stock or chicken stock
oil (for deep frying)
1/2 cup pork crackling (chicharrones)

1 tablespoon chopped garlic
fresh ground black pepper
chopped fresh cilantro leaves (to garnish)

1 – Mix handful of salt into a bowl of cold water and soak plantain chunks. Place stock in saucepan over low heat to warm. Bring at least 1 inch of oil to about 350 F degrees in a deep skillet.
2 – Meanwhile, cook chicharrones or bacon until crisp; remove from heat and drain. Remove plantains from water, drain and dry them on towels, then deep fry the pieces (careful, they may spatter) until golden brown and tender. Remove from oil. Flatten the plantains using the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass bottle or a tostonera if you have one. Fry the plantains again for 30 seconds on each side until slightly crispy.
3 – While the plantains are still hot use a wooden mortar and pestle to mash them with the garlic and the chicharrones. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4 – You can also use a food processor – add the plantains to food processor with bacon, garlic and some salt and pepper. You may have to work in batches. Process to consistency of mashed — not whipped — potatoes. Do not over process!
5 – Place the mixture in soup bowls or wooden pilons, douse with broth, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

What the Heck is/are Cuchifritos?

18 Nov


Cuchifritos, often known as “Puerto Rican soul food” includes a variety of dishes including but not limited to morcilla (blood sausage), papas rellenas (fried potato balls stuffed with meat), platanos rellenos (stuffed plantains), chicharron (fried pork skin), and various other parts of the pig prepared in different ways. It derives its name from the word “cuchí” short for “cochino” or pig and “frito” which describes something that is fried. “Cuchifritos” may also be used to refer to restaurants that serve this type of food. Such establishments are fairly common in New York‘s Spanish Harlem, South Bronx, Brooklyn, and other primarily Latino neighborhoods throughout the country and in Latin America. They tend to make use of colorful external lighting and big flashy signs. They also serve juices and drinks pineapple juice, coconut juice and ajonjolí, a drink made from sesame seeds.

Thanks to my friend Cesar Gomez at the Sarasota/Manatee Latin Chamber of Commerce for finally providing the answer to this nagging question. It has been driving me nuts ever since I first heard a tune by Joe Cuba (“Tu Lo Sientes”). Check it out – it’s a groovy Latin number based on the Willie Bobo song “Fried Neckbones and Home Fries.” Seriously!