Cuban-Style Pork Shoulder

by Angie Anew on January 22, 2012

Yesterday, we attended a large extended family gathering — a potential landmine for sticking to my Whole30 challenge. To ensure that I had something tasty to eat, I made Cuban-style pork shoulder from a Los Angeles Times recipe.

Whole 30 Cuban Pork Prep

The recipe calls for hefty amounts of garlic, spices, herbs and orange zest.

Whole 30 Cuban Pork Prep

When mixed with fresh orange juice and vinegar, the aromatics transform into a flavorful paste.

Whole 30 Cuban Pork

The original recipe calls for cutting the pork shoulder into small pieces. But I just rub the paste all over one or two whole pork shoulder roasts. I then let the meat marinate overnight before putting it in a slow-cooker set on low for about 8 hours.

The result is fork-tender pork with a lovely spicy-tangy-sweet flavor. I enjoyed leftovers from the party with sweet potatoes that I cut into cubes and then drizzled with pork fat (previously skimmed from the cooking juices in the crock pot) before baking at 425 degrees until brown and crispy. YUM!

Adapted from the Los Angeles Times


  • 9 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano (I might use less in the future)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground chile pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (usually equal to the zest of 1 orange)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 5 pounds pork shoulder, bone, skin and excess fat removed
  • 3 onions
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth


  1. In a large bowl, combine garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, black pepper, chili pepper and orange zest. Stir in the vinegar, orange and lime juices to make a coarse paste. Rub the paste all over the pork shoulder roast(s) until evenly coated. Let marinate overnight, if possible.
  2. When you’re ready to cook the meat, trim and cut the onions lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in an even layer on the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Pour the broth over the onions. Arrange the pork in an even layer over the onions, pouring over any reserved marinade.
  3. Cover the insert and place it in the slow cooker. Set the cooker to low heat and cook about 8 hours, or until the pork is fork-tender.
  4. Place the pork roasts on a large cutting board and let them cool slightly. Then gently pull the meat apart with two forks (or your fingers, if their tough like mine). Discard any excess fat.
  5. Strain the cooking liquid (capturing the onions) into a glass bowl or liquid measuring cup. Skim fat off cooking liquid.
  6. Add the pork and onions back into the slow cooker and gently stir together. Add some of the cooking liquid back to the meat/onion mixture for flavor and moisture. You also could cook the liquid down a bit if you’re looking for more concentrated flavor. But the marinade is already quite salty.
  7. Enjoy!

For those not participating in the Whole 30, this pork is divine when piled on corn tortillas and topped with crumbled cotija cheese. For now, I like it “naked” (save for a spritz of lime) with a side of sweet potatoes. Mmmm.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Allie E. January 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM

This was awesome! I made it last week with a pot roast. Making it again this weekend for my familia! Much Love! :)


Angie Anew January 23, 2013 at 7:54 AM

I’m glad you enjoyed it!


Liz May 12, 2013 at 3:45 PM

What kind of vinegar? Thanks!


Angie Anew June 30, 2013 at 8:50 PM

I think I’ve used white and red wine. Both worked fine. (Sorry for the delay!)


Michele Peacock June 30, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Could I use a pork roast instead of a shoulder?


Angie Anew June 30, 2013 at 8:48 PM

I’m sure that would work fine!


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