Cuban-Style Roast Pork Shoulder (Pernil Cubano)
- 1 4 or 5 lbs pork roast shoulder or fresh ham that is not cured or smoked or cooked
- 2 cups sour orange or fresh lime or lemon juice
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tbsp salt save 1 tsp on the side
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 20 cloves fresh garlic peeled can be left whole
- Cuban mojo sauce
- 2 large onions sliced in thin rounds
- 1/2 cup roast pork pan drippings
- 1/2 cup reserved garlic and lime sauce mixture
A Cuban-style pork shoulder may sound a bit intimidating but it is actually quite simple to make as long as you use great ingredients and you follow the instructions. The shoulder is rubbed with a marinade made up of garlic, oregano, cumin and sour orange, then you pop it in the oven until the pork reaches the right temperature and that is it! It's outer skin gets a charred, crispy and delicious crust, which is why you have to make sure to buy the meat with the skin still on.
The meat on the inside is a delicious contrast of juicy and tender perfection.
Some use a Caja China to cook this - a coal-fired plywood roasting box - but this recipe allows you to create this delicious, and famous recipe right in your oven.
The Night Before
- Take your pork shoulder or fresh ham and stab it all over, making deep nicks all around the meat of the roast. Next, take your salt, and pour about two tablespoons full in your hands and rub deep all over the pork roast or fresh ham, sticking your fingers in the freshly made holes so the salt penetrates into the meat. Do this all around the fresh ham. You will need about two tablespoons of salt all together. If it is a very large fresh ham you might need as much as three tablespoons of salt. Continue rubbing deep and all over the meat, and into the holes made with a sharp knife.
- After salting, put the pork to a side. In a blender add the lime/lemon or sour orange juice, garlic cloves, and the seasonings, bay leaf, cumin powder, oregano, pepper, one teaspoon salt. Blend on high until all is liquified. This is your Cuban Mojo. Pour one cup of the mojo in a jar, cover and reserve for later. Now take your pork roast and pour the rest of the sauce all over it, rubbing the mojo sauce deep into the pork meat and into the slits or holes. The secret is to make sure you rub the meat of your pork roast or fresh ham with all this lime/garlic sauce, making sure it is well introduced into the meat. When done, sprinkle a little more oregano, cumin, black pepper over the entire roast once more. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until the next day for roasting.
The Next Day
- Next day, remove the pork from the refrigerator, let stand on the counter for at least an hour then put into a preheated 325 degree oven. Depending on how large a roast you have, roast about three to four hours (or a little more if needed). Pour a half cup of the reserved mojo and baste your roast every hour with some of the mojo. Roast is done when the juices run clear and the meat is tender. Do not cover with aluminum foil to roast.
- In your pan, there should be lots of pan drippings. Pour them into a frying pan over medium heat and add the onions and fry them using the drippings. Next, take half cup of the reserved mojo from the refrigerator and pour into the onions, sautéing everything for about five minutes.
- After about 10 minutes, slice all of your roast and pour the mojo with onions all over the meat, mixing it well into all of the pork meat. Serve with Cuban black beans and white rice.