Sunday, August 10, 2008

pork for 20

We were hosting another birthday party for the Y family and I decided to expand the Chinese parents' horizons by making cuban pork. At least it wasn't spicy. I made enough for my family to have it for dinner the next night.

cuban-style pork with mojo sauce
It doesn't look that tasty, but it really was tender and delicious. There was just enough fat on the pork butt to keep it juicy. Brining and slow roasting is a nice combination, but it means you can't really just whip this up for unexpected guests. And the mojo sauce was just awesome. That needs to be a standard condiment on our fridge.

Cuban-Style Pork Roast

Pork and Brine
-1 bone-in, skin-on pork picnic shoulder (7 to 8 pounds)
-3 cups sugar
-2 cups table salt
-2 medium heads garlic , unpeeled cloves separated and crushed
-4 cups orange juice

Garlic-Citrus Paste
-12 medium cloves garlic , peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
-2 tablespoons ground cumin
-2 tablespoons dried oregano
-1 tablespoon table salt
-1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
-6 tablespoons orange juice
-2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
-2 tablespoons olive oil

1. TO BRINE THE PORK: With sharp paring knife, cut 1-inch-deep slits (about 1 inch long) all over roast, spaced about 2 inches apart. Dissolve sugar and salt in 6 quarts cold water in stockpot or large bucket. Stir in garlic and orange juice. Submerge pork in brine and refrigerate 18 to 24 hours.

2. TO APPLY THE GARLIC-CITRUS PASTE: Process garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper in food processor until they reach consistency of coarse paste, about ten 1-second pulses. With machine running, add orange juice, vinegar, and oil through feed tube and process until mixture forms smooth, wet paste, about 20 seconds. Remove pork from brine and rinse under cool running water; pat dry with paper towels. Rub paste all over pork and into slits. Refrigerate pork while oven is preheating to 325 degrees with rack in lower-middle position.

3. TO ROAST THE PORK: Place pork with skin side down on wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet or in roasting pan with rack. Cook, uncovered, 3 hours. Flip roast skin side up and continue to cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 190 degrees, about 3 hours more, lightly tenting roast with foil if skin begins to get too dark.

4. Transfer roast to cutting board and let rest 1 hour. To carve, first remove skin in one large piece. Scrape off and discard top layer of fat, then cut pork away from bone in 3 or 4 large pieces. Slice each piece against grain into 1/4-inch slices. To serve skin, scrape excess fat from underside and cut into strips. Drizzle Mojo Sauce (see related recipe) over pork just before serving.

Mojo Sauce

-4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
-2 teaspoons kosher salt
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
-1/4 cup fresh orange juice from 1 to 2 oranges
-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place minced garlic on cutting board and sprinkle with kosher salt. Using flat side of chef's knife, drag garlic and salt back and forth across cutting board in small circular motions until garlic is ground into smooth paste.
2. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic paste and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients. Transfer to bowl and cool to room temperature. Whisk sauce to recombine before serving.

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated magazine.

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