Got my mojo workin’ (or Sunday dinner)


My first exposure to Cuban mojo came about 10 years ago when I first tried Goya’s version of the marinade. The boldness of the spices were mellowed by a sharp citrus flavor, adding a terrific flavor to chicken, pork, beef, seafood and small vermin.

I’ve made my own, but it’s tough during the summer when citrus fruit is so hit and miss. Oranges are not nearly as juicy in summer months as you would hope. That said, I’ll undertake the challenge from time to time and deal with the disappointment of dry fruit.

About a year ago, I ran across a recipe (that I can no longer find) for a Cuban pork shoulder roast in a citrus marinade. The cooking time and temperature followed the low and slow method I had learned from my father and the countless cookbooks and magazines I’ve read over the years. So instead of simply using citrus juice, I opted for some homemade mojo. I also used it as an opportunity to pick some cilantro out of the planter box and put it to good use.

More ham than pork. Disappointing Wegmans. Very disappointing.

The recipe comes together quite easily. Most of the time is spent soaking the pork. The end result was average. The shoulder I bought was marked by your friends and mine at Wegmans as just that — pork shoulder. Turns out it was a picnic, not a Boston butt. The difference? Butts are perfect for slow roasting, with the fat breaking down and tenderizing the meat. Picnics are basically uncured hams. The end result was a really tough piece of meat. Flavorful, but really tough. In retrospect, I would use the same temperatures and timings, but use a loin roast to complete the task. I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect that “should have” and not what I actually did. Learn from my mistakes on this one.

Cuban Mojo Pork Roast

  • One 7-8 pound shoulder pork roast  One 4-5 pound pork loin roast
  • 16 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice (5-6 medium oranges)
  • Juice from three lemons
  • Juice from three limes
  • Grated zest of one lemon and one lime
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Dash of white vinegar
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
  • One sliced sweet onion (Mayan or Vidalia), optional
Combine the juices, zest, salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil in a large bowl and whisk. Add the cumin and cilantro, and whisk.
Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels and insert it into a 2 1/2 gallon zipper bag. Add the marinade, then squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it. Let it refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Coat a roasting pan with non-stick spray or olive oil and add the pork shoulder. Using a ladle, spoon some of the marinade over the top. If you’d like, top with onion slices. Cover with foil and roast for 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the foil and raise the temperature to 350 degrees. Roast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the roast to rest 10 to 15 minutes uncovered before slicing.
Serve with good barbecue sauce (Translated: Don’t use that Carolina shit that they pass off as barbecue sauce. It’s wretched.)

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