Thursday, November 16, 2006

Latino Roast Pork Shoulder

As some of you may know, my mother is half Cuban. We were very close to our Cuban grandmother growing up. It was a special treat when she would make her Cuban pork roast, black beans, and rice. This was her specialty. I can still remember how her tiny apartment smelled when she cooked this dish. The aromas of cooking pork, garlic and oregano still makes me feel like a child in her kitchen. It meant so much to her to make it for us. She was inviting us with each bite to share in her childhood memories of living in Key West during the depression.

Her father, my great-grandfather, rolled Cuban cigars in Cuba for a living. She actually lived down the street from Fidel Castro's cousin. They were playmates as children. Of course, if you know Gee (that is what we called her), you know she has an opinion on everybody. "I did not like that man, even back then. He was mean!" Compounded with the fact that in his old age he grew facial hair, she had a zero tolerance policy when it came to facial hair.

Over the years my mother took over the pork roast dinner. She makes a mean one. Hers tastes almost exactly like the one Gee made. When I started cooking, it only seemed appropriate that I should take over the tradition of the Cuban pork roast, black bean meal. Every time I cooked it, I was unsatisfied with the results. It hardly ever turned out like Gees, and even when it did I felt the pork roast taste was just a hair fatty and lacked depth. A couple of years ago I bought this great cookbook at Half Priced Books called, Fiesta. When I was reading through it I came across a Latino Pork Roast recipe. Excited, I immediately called together a dinner party with friends, just to have an excuse to make this recipe. You simply must have a reason to cook pork roast, the results are always far too good to just share with your family. Now, I know that family recipes are sacred, and you should never deviate from them...but, this recipe far surpasses that of the past family recipe. Gee's version of pork roast has its place in culinary history to be sure. It is far more simple and is seemingly easier to create. But, it does not always turn out the same. I will leave this version for my mother, and I will of course teach it to my kids, just to pass on the tradition.

I have made this new recipe so many times I have the ingredients memorized, and never once has it not come out PERFECT! Succulent pork in juices taken with a bite of black beans, a bit of rice and a silver of fried plantain, there is nothing closer to heaven then this. Next time you have a party, make this dish! Most of the work you can do the night before, as a matter of fact, I recommend you do it the night before, so you can marinade the meat all night. Although, I have made the marinade a few hours before I cooked the roast and it is still very good. You can also deviate from using shoulder to using other cuts of pork roast, whatever you find that you want to use.

My next blog entry will be the killer black bean recipe and then I will write the plantain recipe. You simply cannot have Cuban pork roast without black beans and rice, plantains, and avocado salad. (Not to mixed up with guacamole)

Try not to be daunted by the ingreidient list. A good cook should have all the things required in this recipe in their fridge or pantry. If you do not have some of these things, think of it as an investment in your future dishes.

This recipe serves 10 people but can be doubled or cut in half, but it never hurts to have this as leftovers.

Latino Roast Pork Shoulder Marinade

1 small head of garlic, peeled, and chopped
1 Tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt
2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
1 Teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1-Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1 sprig fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2-cup limejuice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4-cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves crumbled
4 whole cloves, crushed in a mortar

1 Picnic Pork shoulder (about 7 pounds), trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
2 cups water, plus more as needed
1/2 cup dry sherry (can substitute with red wine)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. To make the marinade: In food processor or blender, process all the marinade ingredients to a paste.

2. Rub the pork all over with the marinade, place it in a large plastic bag, close the bag tightly, and refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

4. Place the pork on a rack in a large baking pan. Pour 2 cups of water, the sherry, and the Worcestershire sauce into the pan and roast the pork for 4 hours, basting every 15-20 min. until tender. (Basting this often if not a necessity, but it does make it that better) Cover it loosely with foil if the crust is browning too much.

5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove the foil, if using, and roast the pork another 30 min., until the skin is crispy.

6. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover it loosely with foil, and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Degrease the pan juices and transfer them to a sauceboat.

7. Carve the pork and accompanied by the pan juices.

Recipe Source: FIESTA, Anya von Bremzen

1 comment:

Betsy said...

Wow...I didn't know that Gee lived down the st. from Castro's cousin...and that her dad rolled Cubans for a living. I wish I'd been able to know Gee better while I was a little older so that I could fully appreciate (and remember) the cultural enrichment and childhood stories she past on to you guys. You'll have to tell me more sometime.