As promised.

Since I am widely held to be one Hell of a guy, and since I promised I would, here is my recipe for my Spain vs. Cuber Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) Roast Pork. There are a few decision trees along this recipe's path, and I'll note them wherever I can.

For this variation of the recipe, we're looking at a weight of about 8lb./3.5kg which will feed about 8 people, as a lot of that weight is bone/fat/etc.

Pork and Brine/Marinade ("Brinerade?"):
1 Bone-in, skin on pork shoulder, sometimes called a picnic ham; this is the shoulder and upper arm of the donor pig. A large "Boston butt" pork roast will also work, as will a fresh (i.e., uncured, unsmoked, un-everything except raw) ham, although the latter will be considerably larger. You may even go with a whole critter, which is THE most traditional thing. Multiply everything as needed.

3 cups sugar
3 cups coarse kosher or sea salt
2 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and smahed loose of their skins
4 cups juice of sour (sometimes called "Seville") oranges or 2 cups lime juice and 2 cups of regular (sometimes called "Valencia") orange juice. Although some recipes will suggest it, you cannot get away with using only regular orange juice; don't even try it. Using straight "regular" orange juice will not provide you the correct acid:sweetness ratio. Incidentally, using 1:1 lime and orange juice is a good-enough bit of jury rigging. The closest approximation is actually 2:1:1 orange:lime:lemon juice. But, we're talking diminishing returns here. Even for me.

If you really have time, you can break the process into brine, followed by marinade. It's probably a tiny bit better, but again, that's diminishing returns stuff.

Garlic & Sour Orange paste:
12 garlic cloves, minced as fine as your patience will permit (figure a 1/4 cup)
2 T. ground cumin (ideally, you'd toast the seeds lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat and then grind them yourself)
2 T. fresh oregano (you can get away w. 1 T. dry)
1.5 T. coarse (sea or kosher) salt
1.5 t. fresh ground black pepper
3 T. sour orange juice (or 2 T. regular orange juice & 1 T. lime juice)
Optional: The zest of the assorted citrus fruits you just juiced.

For the Mojo* sauce
4 garlic cloves, sliced as thinly as your patience will allow...surface area is vital.
1 T. coarse salt
1/2 c. EVOO
1/2 t. ground cumin (see above)
1/2 c. sour orange juice (or 1/4 cup lime juice and 1/4 cup orange juice)
1 T. fresh (or 1½ t. dry) oregano, chopped
1/8 t. fresh ground black pepper

Score the skin (if you have patience, do this in a crosshatch pattern) and make sure you cut through the skin and fat -- you'll need a lot of surface area to render out the pork fat -- but make sure you do not cut through the flesh. In the various cuts you just made, stab cut 1" (2.5cm) deep slits in pork roast, spaced about 2" (5cm) apart. Blend brine ingredients in a cooler (or an oven bag if you have space in the fridge) and add the pork. Make sure whatever vessel you use provides a snug fit for the pork. Optional: Plug the slits with quartered garlic cloves.

Brine overnight, ideally, about 18-24 hours.

Make the paste by whizzing the garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender or a food processor to achive a rough sort of paste. At that point, with the machine running, add oil and then juice (in that order) in a slow dribble until smooth. You're looking for the approximate consistency of, say, mustard...something smearable that won't drip off.

Take out the pork from the brine. Pat dry with paper towels and, if you can, let it rest uncovered in the fridge; this is key to getting some crisp skin action going on. Smear paste all over the roast and make sure you massage some into the slits.

Now, I make this in a smoker thing, so it cooks low and slow (200F/95C or so) with a bit of oak added to the charcoal for a good 16 hours. I realize that normal people will not be interested in this sort of committment, so here are some variations on the theme...

Option 1:
Using gas grill: Turn all burners on BBQ grill to high with lid closed for 15 minutes to bring up the temperature of the grill to about 325F/163C. Then off all except one burner. Place roast with skin side up as far as possible from the lit burner. Lower primary burner to medium or medium-high (grill temperature should be about 325 degrees). Cook until skin is browned and crisp and internal temperature of meat is 190F/88C for sliceable about 6 hours, or (my preference) 200F/95C for fall-apart which will be +/- 7½, rotating the meat 180 degrees after 3 hours. Let meat rest for 1 hour.

Option 2:
Roast can also be made in the oven at 325 degrees, placed in a roasting rack and rotated as needed.

Option 3a:
Start the roast off in a charcoal grill with about 1 gallon/3.8L of charcoal. Bank the coal off to one side and once the coals have ignited, place the roast on the far side. Cover and do not uncover until the grill's temperature is 225F/107C, which will be around 3 hours. Then put the roast in a 325F/163C oven to finish off for about another 3 hours. Let rest as above.

Option 3b (my favorite alternative):
Start the roast off in a charcoal grill with about 1 gallon/3.8L of charcoal. Bank the coal off to one side and once the coals have ignited, place the roast on the far side. Cover and do not uncover until the grill's temperature is 190F/90C, which will be around 4 hours. Then put the roast in a 200F/95C oven to finish off for about another 6 hours. Let rest as above. This will be fall-apart tender.

Option 4:
Set oven temperature to 200F/95C. Place roast, covered VERY TIGHTLY (think hermetic) with foil. Put in a roasting rack and forget about it for about 12 hours. Uncover and brown the outside at 325F/163C for about 20 minutes.

While you are waiting for the completion of whatever option you have chosen, make the Mojo sauce. Heat olive oil, garlic and cumin over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes...DO NOT LET THE GARLIC COLOR. You want the garlic's flavor to permeate the oil, not to toast the garlic. Take off heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend (a hand blender is particularly useful) until it's as smooth as you like (I prefer to leave a tiny bit of chunkiness). I also like to add any defatted roasting juices to this saucy excellentness, but you you go whichever way you want. Serve this alongside the pork roast and let people slather their serving according to their individual tolerance for rather sharp savoriness.

There ya go.


P.S. Remind me to get the Cuban Sandwich recipe posted later.

* Mojo means "soak" in Spanish.


Badger said…
I want some.

Sarah said…
Please come to the land of ice and snow and make this for me.

To quote Badger, RIGHT. FREAKING.NOW.
shula said…
Yep. I'm with Badger too.
KPB said…
OH MAN - thank sounds DIVINE. DIVINE!
KPB said…
I'm also curious about your smoker...
Caro said…
I have a cookbook of recipes that are really long and complicated, but delicious, and I am too lazy to cook them. I really should send that book on to you. :-)
Caro said…
I have a cookbook with some delicious, but time-consuming recipes. This means I am too lazy to make them. I really should send it on to you.
Caro said…
Either I have posted twice or I am not posting at all. Hmmmm.

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