Saturday, April 16, 2011

Roast Pork - Cuban Style

It's always a savory conundrum - do I order Lechon Asado (roast pork) or Pollo Asado (roast chicken) when I dine at a local Cuban restaurant. Usually what happens is my wife orders the chicken and I get the pork, so we just share. And now, I'm happy to share another Cuban classic with my readers - the luscious and pleasing pork entree, Lechon Asado.

Cuban Roast Pork holds the exalted culinary status of Southern BBQ Pulled Pork, grilled Mexican Al Pastor, or baked Kahlua Pig from Hawaii.

It's slow-cooked with a marinade of sour oranges, garlic and oregano. Since sour oranges are hard to come by, unless you live in Miami, I combine regular orange and lime juice. In all, it's a killer citrus and garlic combination that makes slow-cooked pork butt (or shoulder) sweet, caramelized, fragrant and fall-off-the-bone tender.

Ingredients for my Cuban Roast Pork recipe are budget-priced at any market. I get pork shoulder on sale for about 99 cent a pound at my local Latin market, and the other fruit, veggies and herbs are cheap anytime.

In a previous post I showed you a quick Black Beans recipe. Everyone has made white rice (you can use generic quick-cooking.) I also did a favorite Cuban side of steamed Yucca a couple of years ago. For an extra rich sweet recipe, come back next week for Fried Plantains . A healthier and less starchy way to go is to accompany roast pork with my Cuban Salad - just click any name for the recipe.

Cuban Roast Pork is the kind of dish you start baking after breakfast, so it's ready for dinner. And since a large cut of meat is used, you will have plenty of leftovers. In a couple of weeks I'll show you what to do with some of it -- make a classic Cuban Sandwich!

  • 6-8 pounds of pork - shoulder or butt, with or without bone. Boneless cooks faster, but is more expensive.

  • 2 cups of orange juice - or fresh squeezed (about 6 oranges)
  • 1 cup of lime or lemon juice - from a bottle or fresh (about 2-3 whole lemons or limes)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic - chopped fresh, or from jar.
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano - dried or fresh
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Take large pork shoulder and pierce deeply all over with a knife, so it will absorb marinade. In a large bowl, mix together orange and lime juice, chopped onion, garlic and oregano. Place pork in a large pan, ceramic or plastic bowl or a large Ziploc bag . Pour marinade over pork and season with salt and pepper. Cover with lid or foil.

Store in refrigerator a couple of hours or overnight. Turn pork a couple of times to make sure marinade is evenly distributed over meat.

Later, place pork, still covered or foil-covered, in a 350-degree oven. Leave bottom of pork exposed to water, to keep pork moist, during long baking time.

Bake 5 - 6 hours. Baste with marinade, from bottom of pan, every hour - cover and continue baking. After a couple of hours, you may need to add water, a cup at a time, as liquid cooks out.

Check tenderness of pork at about 5 hours. Done when pork easily separates with a fork. Cook another hour or two if not tender enough. Cooking time may vary, depending on the size of the pork roast.

I've even cooked it for 8 hours for a large pork shoulder with bone. Just make sure there is water or broth in the roasting pan to keep the pork from drying out. And keep it loosely covered in foil.

To serve, break off large chunks of pork and arrange on a plate with white rice and black beans (or salad and sides mentioned earlier). To have a total Cuban dinner experience, pour over roast pork my easy-to-make Mojo Criollo Sauce with sliced onion (click here for the recipe).


Dinahsoar said...

Sounds delish. I wonder if you could cook it in a crock pot?? I've made BBQ in the crock pot with good results. The meat--surprisingly--browns up...I guess due to the long cooking time.

99 Cent Chef said...

Hi Dinah, I'm sure a crock pot would work fine, go for it!

Shay said...

Wow, this looks absolutely delicious! I can't wait to try it this week (along with your black bean and Cuban salad recipes as sides, of course!).

Rick said...

Fabulous! I've been to Versailles and burped garlic for the following week.

The Cuban pork is a lot like carnitas—citrus, garlic herbs, pig and awesome.

Leftovers for a Cuban sandwich?

99 Cent Chef said...

hi Rick, a Cuban Sandwich is a couple of posts away -- that is, if any Roasted Pork is left!

debmohn said...

This was wonderful! I didn't have fresh oranges, so I subbed orange/mango juices that were already in the fridge, marinated it overnight and cooked it in the crockpot. We had it with white rice, black beans and grilled squash. Astounding meal. I shredded some of the meat and mixed it with German BBQ sauce for lunch sandwiches the next day. This may become my "go to" recipe for roast pork! Thanks for the recipe and serving ideas!

Ellen Bloom said...

This sounds fantastic, Billy!! Easy too. I'm definitely cooking this. LOVE your recipes!

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