El Jefe Truck-Inspired Cuban Mojo-Marinated Pork Roast

by Kelly on September 3, 2014   

First of all, see the movie “Chef.” It’s my favorite movie this year and it may easily be yours. Then I challenge you to ignore your overwhelming craving for the roast pork they make for their cubano sandwiches. I certainly couldn’t, and had to get to the bottom of that delicious-looking roast. Apparently Roy Choi created the original recipe for the movie, but I delved a little deeper into other options, getting some direction from a website evocatively titled Three Guys from Miami. Sorry, Chef Choi!

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Adorable father-son bonding movie with food as its love center — what could be better?

Roasted pork is so succulent and flavorful that I have been moved to declare this my year of pork. Many cuisines around the world make such good use of pork, and just focusing on roasted options would achieve my goal. There are carnitas and cochinita pibil, and in our own country, pulled pork, prepared in a variety of styles. Yes, a year of roasted pork will go down nicely.

Big rounds of onion, sauteéd in the pan drippings and coated with mojo, make a beautiful and tasty presentation

Big rounds of onion, sauteéd in the pan drippings and coated with mojo, make a beautiful and tasty presentation

Cuban Mojo-Marinated Pork Roast | 6 servings

The mojo is the whole deal — it’s both a marinade and a sauce, packed with a delicious sour, herbal, garlicky punch. You’ll just want to spoon it on everything, and when you make the Cuban black beans and rice to go along with the pork, you’ll spoon it on those, too.

3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless pork butt or shoulder
2 tablespoons salt
2 large onions, sliced in thick rounds (for the second day)

For the mojo:
1 1/3 cup sour (Seville) orange juice or 1 cup fresh orange juice plus 1/3 cup fresh lime
juice (6 to 8 limes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
15 garlic cloves, peeled

The day before, prepare the mojo (the pork will marinate in the mojo overnight). Stab the pork all over, making deep slits in 8 to 10 places. Rub the 2 tablespoons of salt all over the pork, and tie with string to contain loose sections if needed.

Deep slits, and rub the salt into the slits

Deep slits, and rub the salt into the slits

Just a few simple wrap-arounds with string to hold the loose ends in place, but only if needed

Just a few simple wrap-arounds with string to hold the loose ends in place, but only if needed

Put all of the mojo ingredients in a blender or food processor and liquefy.

I used a small food processor but switched to a blender to really get it pureéd

I used a small food processor but switched to a blender to really get it pureéd

You'll end up with about 1 1/2 cups of mojo

You’ll end up with about 1 1/2 cups of mojo

Reserve 3/4 cup of mojo and put it in the refrigerator. Pour the remaining mojo over the pork, working it into the slits. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator overnight in either a tightly covered glass bowl or a zip lock bag.

Cover the top with plastic wrap or put the whole roast into a ziplock bag and squeeze out the air

Cover the top with plastic wrap or put the whole roast into a zip lock bag and squeeze out the air

The next day, remove the pork from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking and let it come to room temperature, leaving it in its marinade.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the pork in a roasting pan, fat side up. Pour the leftover mojo marinade into a small bowl. Use this marinade to baste the pork as it cooks, making sure to discard any that is left over at the end of cooking (it has been in contact with raw meat and is not consider safe to eat without cooking).

I like to line the pan with foil for easy cleanup but you'll need to scrape the pan drippings out with a scraper

I like to line the pan with foil for easy cleanup but you’ll need to scrape the pan drippings out with a scraper

Cook the pork for 20 minutes at 450°F and reduce the heat to 325°F for the remaining cooking time, about 3 hours depending on the size of the roast. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the leftover marinade over the pork a few times as it cooks. The internal temperature of the roast should be above 170°F, and the juices will run clear.

Remove the pork from the oven and place on a platter. Cover it with a foil tent and allow it to rest for 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, scrape the pan drippings and some of the crusted bits into a large skillet. Heat the drippings over medium high heat and cook the onion rounds until they are browning and caramelizing, about 15 minutes. Using the reserved mojo from the refrigerator, add 1/4 cup to the onions and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

They start out a bit oversized for the pan but they will cook down!

They start out a bit oversized for the pan but they will cook down!

A deepening caramel color gives the onions a nice, sweet flavor

A deepening caramel color gives the onions a nice, sweet flavor

Slice the pork across the grain into thick pieces, and serve with the onions on top. The reserved mojo can be passed at the table.

And tomorrow you will make a cubano, and maybe even tweet about it!

Kelly McCune © 2014

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Pan Haggerty for the Haggard

by Kelly on December 19, 2013   

Comfort food on a cold night

Comfort food on a cold night

It’s finally a leetle bit cold around here, and I’ve been craving something warming and easy. In the height of summer I found a version of this recipe in The Cheese Companion by Judy Ridgway that caused me to turn to my husband and mention that this would be an excellent dinner for us two imminent empty-nesters along with a simple salad and a glass of wine. This was really just a far-off vision of humble dinners in front of distant fireplaces. But on one recent post-shopping, nothing-in-the-house evening, I was feeling just haggard enough to remember this gorgeously comforting dish. (As spunky boys my husband and a friend once made up a character named Hagatha Uglemeyer — that’s how I felt.)

The dish is traditional Northumbrian, and while it adapts beautifully to any cheese, the North Country cheese, Wensleydale, is that region’s cheese of choice. Sound familiar? It’s Wallace’s obsession (and Gromit’s perpetual trial).

Wallace's constant craving, Wensleydale cheese

Wallace’s favorite, Wensleydale cheese

This dish celebrates cheese and its natural companion, the potato. For this one I’ve chosen three different cheeses, two of which I made here at home. I’m working on developing a cheese plant (that IS my far-off, and I hope not-too-distant, vision) and these are two of my trials. I’ll soon be posting about my progress at Little Sister Creamery!

My goat/cow tomme in the back, a soft taleggio in front, also mine, and a Gruyére on the right

My goat/cow tomme in the back, a soft taleggio in front, also mine, and a Gruyére on the right

Pan Haggerty | 4 servings

This recipe is really an open book — make it entirely veg, or use leftover chicken, fry a few strips of bacon and crumble them in instead of the sausage, try chopped ham or prosciutto, whatever is on hand. You can also use a little garlic if you like, or herbs, but I’ve kept mine very, very simple.

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium-sized potatoes)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 fresh sausage (I used a spicy Italian pork sausage)
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 pound cheese, shredded

Thinly slice the potatoes without peeling.

Keep the slices thin, or use a mandoline on a thin setting

Keep the slices thin, or use a mandoline on a thin setting

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof pan (I like an 8-inch cast-iron pan for this) over medium heat. Peel away the sausage casing and brown the sausage meat, breaking it up into bits. Remove with a slotted spoon and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Layer 1/3 of the potatoes on the bottom of the pan, pressing them down to make sure there is contact. Scatter 1/2 of the onions, 1/2 of the carrots and 1/2 of the browned sausage over the potatoes.

Lengthwise thin slices like this works well, and carrots thinly sliced on the diagonal

Lengthwise thin slices like this works well, and carrots thinly sliced on the diagonal

Season salt and pepper and scatter 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Repeat a layer with another 1/3 potato slices, the remaining onions, carrots and sausage, season, and another 1/3 cheese. End with the rest of the potato and season, reserving the last 1/3 cheese for the final step.

Press down on the top to compact the layers -- I needed to so that my lid would fit

Press down on the top to compact the layers — I needed to so that my lid would fit

Cover and continue cooking over medium-low heat for 40 minutes, or until the layers are very tender when pierced with a skewer. Uncover the dish for the last 5 minutes.

Preheat a broiler. Scatter the final 1/3 cheese over the top and slide the pan under the broiler. Cook until the top is bubbly and brown.

I do recommend the little salad and glass of wine, and an amusing companion — think Wallace and Gromit!

Kelly McCune © 2013

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