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.
The recipe calls for hefty amounts of garlic, spices, herbs and orange zest.
When mixed with fresh orange juice and vinegar, the aromatics transform into a flavorful paste.
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!
CUBAN-STYLE PORK SHOULDER
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Strain the cooking liquid (capturing the onions) into a glass bowl or liquid measuring cup. Skim fat off cooking liquid.
- 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.
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.