Trifongo con Caldo
Chef Reina Gascon-Lopez
Trifongo! It’s a beloved dish in Puerto Rico. And similar to mofongo, this dish is actually a combination of smashed fried green plantains, fried sweet plantains, and boiled yuca. Growing up, my mom would make this since it was easier to find more yuca than it was plantains here in Charleston. The yuca tends to stretch out the batch and the cooking method is exactly the same as the mofongo recipe I shared a few years ago. Such a great remix on a classic and nostalgic dish.
I love having trifongo (or mofongo) with a simple bowl of broth, also known as caldo. I find that the broth allows the garlicky and porky root vegetables to really shine through while making it a complete meal. Partnering with Spice Tribe on sharing my favorite Single Origin Spices, this is the best way to showcase them fully with one of my favorite recipes.
Aside from serving trifongo and mofongo with caldo, we also serve it stuffed (or topped similar to mashed potatoes and gravy) with plump shrimp cooked in a salsa criolla, a Puerto Rican creole sauce (one of my favorites to have with rice, actually). And if you want to omit the chicharrones in this trifongo recipe, you definitely can to make this dish vegetarian-friendly. Let’s do this!
- 16 oz frozen yuca chunks
- 2 sprigs fresh culantro or cilantro, torn
- 1 tsp Spice Tribe Late Harvest Black Peppercorns
- 4 garlic cloves, whole
- 1 small bay leaf
- 2 medium green plantains, cut into chunks
- 2 medium sweet yellow plantains, cut into chunks
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- .5 cup garlic cloves, peeled and smashed into paste (see note)
- Large pinch of kosher salt
- 3 cups pork rinds, crushed
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Adobo spice blend, to taste
- Water or broth, as needed
- 4 cups chicken broth or stock, unsalted
- 1 fresh sprig culantro or cilantro
- 1 small bay leaf
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
.5 tbsp Spice Tribe Late Harvest Black Peppercorns
.5 tbsp Spice Tribe Wild Black Cumin Seeds
.5 tbsp Spice Tribe Pimentón de la Vera
- In a large pot, add the yuca, culantro (or cilantro), peppercorns, garlic cloves and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, about 20-30 minutes.
- While the yuca is boiling, work on the caldo by combing the chicken broth, culantro (or cilantro), bay leaf, garlic cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and smoked paprika in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and let it go for 15-20minutes. Strain and discard the herbs and spices. Place the strained broth back into the saucepan, turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid to keep warm on the stove.
- Next, preheat a frying pan or cast iron skillet for frying the plantain. Add enough vegetable oil (I used about 4 cups) to fry the plantains and turn the heat on medium to preheat the pan.
- At this point, your yuca should almost be done. Check on it and if so, remove the boiled yuca from the pot and place on a plate, discarding the other ingredients. Let cool and once cool enough to handle, remove the tough inner stem if there is one (sometimes they’re removed in advance) and cut into small chunks. Place in a large mixing bowl.
- Meanwhile, once the oil is hot enough (test by putting the bottom of a wooden spoon and if the oil bubbles, it’s ready for frying), fry the green plantains until they’re golden brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oil and place them in the bowl with the cooked yuca. Repeat this process with the sweet plantains.
- When the yuca, green plantains, and sweet plantains are all in the same bowl, add a large pinch of kosher salt, the crushed pork rinds, smashed garlic cloves, and the melted butter. Using a potato smasher, smash everything until well combined, using water or some broth as needed to make it pliable and tender. Season with adobo spice blend and more kosher salt to your liking.
- Once everything is smashed up, using your hands (if so, wet them with water first) or a pilón form the trifongo into a medium-sized mound for serving. I like placing it in the center of a shallow bowl and then ladling the warm caldo right over the top for serving. Enjoy immediately and then take a nap, because trust me, you’ll want to after eating this pure coziness.
This recipe is pretty straightforward but it does involve some multitasking, so make sure you have your mise en place and you’ve read the full recipe before starting. For example, when I made this recipe, I made sure to work on the caldo while the yuca was boiling. And when that was done, I worked on frying the plantain while the yuca was cooling down to ensure everything stayed around the same temperature when smashing in the bowl. You want to make sure you work in sync with the longest cooked item (the yuca). That’s the easiest way to multitask because once the yuca is boiled and ready, you should have everything else prepped and ready to finish the dish and serve so it stays warm.