Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cuban Pork in the Crock Pot


I have mentioned before that I have a fondness for Cuban food. I spent seven formative years in Tampa, Florida, where the culture is heavily influenced by nearby Ybor City and the many Cubans who live throughout the state. So, when I see Cuban recipes like this one, I am attracted like ants to sugar. I am rarely disappointed in Cuban food. It has many flavors of Spanish food, but with an influence from the Caribbean -- fruit juices and some different spices.

As much as we really enjoyed this dish, I will admit that this pork is not very pretty. In fact, when we began eating my husband declared that he didn't think it looked very good (how dare he?) -- but, he ate three helpings! The appearance is likely from the use of the crock pot -- cooking slowly in the juices will leave meat looking a tad gray . If that's a problem for you, braise it first
(see my note below recipe added after subsequent cookings). But the taste more than offsets the appearance, and with some white rice, and Cuban black beans, and a green salad, it was perfectly yummy, in my opinion.

I threw this dish in the crockpot as I was on my way out the door to move my college boy into his apartment. I did not take care to read the recipe before hand and just tossed everything into the crockpot. I truly don't think it lost anything in my carelessness. One ingredient confused me -- the recipe called for 2 t. ground chile pepper. Since it did not call for chili powder (which is more than just ground chile pepper) I subbed 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. I would make it the same way next time.

Cuban Pork Shoulder
serves 8-10

9 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T. salt
4 t. dried oregano
1 T. ground cumin
2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
2 dried bay leaves, finely crumbled
1 T. grated orange zest
2 T. vinegar
2 T. fresh orange juice
2 T. lime juice
5 pounds pork shoulder, bone and skin removed and cut into 2-inch cubes
3 onions
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth (I used vegetable)

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, black pepper, chili pepper, crumbled bay leaves and orange zest. Stir in the vinegar, orange and lime juices to make a coarse paste.
(see note below) Add the pork pieces and toss until the pieces are evenly coated with the spice paste. Set aside to marinate while you finish the other preparations.

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. Pour the broth over the onions. Arrange the pork in an even layer over the onions, pouring over any reserved marinade.

Cover and set the cooker to high heat and cook 4 to 4 1/2 hours until the pork is fork-tender. Remove from heat and crack the lid to allow the mixture to cool slightly. Gently stir the pork with the onions and serve.

NOTE: The second time I made this dish, I braised the meat first and I think I liked it better than way. Instead of marinating the pork in the spice mixture, I braised it in hot oil (half at a time), just until it had some color on it. Then I placed it in the crock pot on top of the onions and stirred in the spice mixture.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I grew up in Miami, so I also am very attracted to Cuban food. Love it!!! My husband, actually, makes delicious black beans and rice with pork shoulder. (He does the more involved, all-day-long recipes; I do the everyday, normal cooking =) We don't have it very often, because it is so time consuming, but when we have it ... Oh! It's my favorite =)