Nothing says Cuban like puerco, slow-roasted pork.
Imagine this. You are at a party hosted by your crazy, fun-loving Cuban amigos (friends) in Miami. The sun is shining, the ocean breeze is blowing, the alcohol is flowing and the music is playing.
The smell of pig roasting in the caja china has everyone’s appetites ready and waiting for the signal that “it’s time to eat!”
But this is just a dream. Oh well. Since we’re not in Miami at our Cuban friend’s house waiting for the perfectly roasted pig to come out of the caja china, a slow-roasted pork shoulder will have to suffice.
And trust me, it will.
You’ll marinate the pork shoulder with garlic and let it sit overnight in the traditional sour orange juice along with some herbacious spices. The pork shoulder will roast slowly in the oven for several hours and the house will smell like a Cuban restaurante. Te digo la verdad…es increible (I am telling you the truth, it’s incredible).
In the meantime, you’ll make some black beans and rice, slice up the pork, fry up the platanos maduros and top it all with a classic Cuban mojo sauce. This typical Cuban meal is not just memorable, but inexpensive and tons of fun.
Oh, and how could I forget? It is not an official Cuban party until you make a bunch of mojitos, have plenty of cold cervezas (beer) ready, turn up the musica (music) and gather your family and friends together for a Cuban fiesta (party) and pig out.
So, what are you waiting for?? Vamanos (Let’s go)!
Viva Cuba y buen provecho!
Cuban Roasted Pork
- Bone-in pork shoulder also known as a pork butt (approximately 1 lb. per person)
- Sour orange juice you can use Goya brand, actual sour oranges or a combination of lime juice and oranges (1/2 cup for every 2 pounds)
- cloves garlic sliced in half (2 garlic cloves per pound)
- yellow onion sliced or chunked (1/2 onion for every 2 pounds)
- Bay leaves 2 bay leaves per pound, fresh if possible
- Paprika 1/2 teaspoon per pound
- Ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon per pound
- Olive oil 1/4 cup for every 2 pounds
- kosher or sea salt 1/2 teaspoon for every 2 pounds and lots of freshly ground black pepper
- freshly ground black pepper
- Handful of chopped cilantro for every 2 pounds
Using the tip of a knife, make slits all over the pork shoulder (both sides) to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place in a non-reactive baking dish which should also be the one you use to bake the pork in.
Peel and smash the garlic and cut each clove in half and place in the dish with the pork. Roughly slice or chunk half a yellow onion and place in the dish as well. Start with 1/2 cup sour orange juice and pour over the meat. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top of the meat and then flip the meat and pour 2 more tablespoons of olive oil, adding more sour orange juice and olive oil if the butt is bigger.
Generously pepper both sides of the meat and sprinkle with cumin and paprika and then you want to dredge the meat in the sour oj juice, onion and garlic marinade and flip it over to dredge the other side as well. Add bay leaves in the bottom of the dish, freshly picked bay leaves if you can get them as opposed to dried bay leaves.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You can also marinate the meat in a Ziploc bag and then place the pork in a baking dish to cook it. Do not add any salt to the meat until after it marinates. Every once in a while, you might want to flip the meat or shake the bag up a little.
When you are ready to cook the meat, remove the plastic wrap and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil and now sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt on top of the meat. Place it in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Do not drain any liquid before cooking.
After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 300 degrees and cover with aluminum foil. Cook for approximately 1 hour per pound or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees, which is really well done but that's what we are looking for. This should be almost falling off the bone stage of doneness, but not quite.
When the meat is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. Slice the pork, spoon some of the liquid from the pan over the pork and then liberally pour mojo sauce* as well. Serve with the mandatory black beans, rice and platanos maduros.
*The mojo sauce recipe will be shared in the Cuban Grand Slam series.