Mojo Marinated Pork Cubano (Lechon Asado)
Chef Randy Zweiban of Chicago’s Nacional 27 makes this recipe as part of his Cuban Christmas menu, but you should serve it anytime you feel like being adventurous.
What to buy: Dried chile molido can be found at most spice stores. A good source is Penzeys.
Scotch bonnet peppers are available at specialty produce stores or gourmet grocery stores. They’re also among the hottest of hot peppers; wear gloves when slicing them.
For the spice rub:
- 2 tablespoons whole cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander
- 2 tablespoons dried chile molido
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
For the mojo:
- 1/2 cup garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cumin, freshly toasted and ground
- 1/2 cup coriander, freshly toasted and ground
- 2 tablespoons jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Scotch bonnet peppers, finely chopped
- 4 cups canola or vegetable oil
- 7 cups orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
For the spice rub:
- 1In a dry sauté pan, toast cumin, peppercorns, and coriander over medium heat for a few minutes until spices just start to smoke. Remove spices immediately from the pan.
- 2Grind smoked spices in a spice or coffee grinder. Mix together with remaining ingredients (except pork).
- 3Trim any excess fat off the pork, discard the fat, and cut pork into six pieces. Liberally massage all of the spice rub into pork pieces. Place pork in a large resealable plastic bag or in a glass dish. Cover and leave in the refrigerator 24 hours.
- 4On the second day, make the mojo.
For the mojo:
- 1Combine garlic, cumin, coriander, jalapeños, and Scotch bonnet peppers in a stainless steel bowl.
- 2In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil until hot (approximately 175°F). Pour warm oil over spice mixture and let cool to room temperature.
- 3Simmer 2 cups of the orange juice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until it is reduced to 1/2 cup. Cool to room temperature.
- 4Combine oil-and-spice mixture, reduced orange juice, remaining 5 cups orange juice, cilantro, and sherry vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth (do this in batches). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- 5Add 4 cups of the mojo to pork, cover, and marinate another 24 hours.
- 6On the third day, preheat oven to 300°F and arrange the rack at the bottom. Place pork in a large baking dish or in a large, heavy pot with a tightfitting lid, and add remaining mojo and enough water to cover pork in liquid. Cover with foil or a tightfitting lid and place in the oven.
- 7Cook until pork is fork tender, about 4 to 5 hours. (Check pork periodically and add a little water if the liquid is reducing too quickly.) Serve.
Beverage pairing: 2005 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frülingsplätzchen Kabinett, Germany. Don’t even bother trying to pronounce the name of this wine from Germany’s Nahe region, just know that Riesling is a great match with both pork and spicy foods, making it a natural for this dish. Furthermore, the smokiness of the spices is emulated by a hint of flinty slate in this light, punchy, and refreshing white wine.
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