Afro-Caribbean food reaches its starchy apex with this spherical trademark dish. Mofongo is the Puerto Rican answer to Chinese pork buns. The soaking leaches out a naturally occurring bitter latex from the plantain pulp.
½poundpork rind, cut into 2-inchsquares and soaked in cold water for 2 hours
4green plantains, peeled, cut on a bias in ½-inch slices, and soaked in cold water for 1 hour
Melt the lard in a heavy pot. Set the pork rind squares in the lard, fat side down. Cover and cook over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the cover, raise the heat to medium, and fry another 15 minutes, or until crisp and brown. Drain off the excess fat. Sprinkle with salted water to make the cracklings (chicharrones) puff up.
While the chicharrones are crisping, drain the plantain slices and fry gently in lard until tender but not browned. Mash the plantain slices with a mortar and pestle. Add the chicharrones, salt to taste, and continue mashing so as to crush the chicharrones.
Form into balls about the size of tennis balls with your hands and serve while warm.