Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)
One project that I have been wanting to try for a while was making a Cuban style roast pork and with a recent sale it was the right time to make it! Cuban style roast pork, aka lechon asado , is traditionally made by roasting a whole pig until cooked and the skin is nice and crispy but at home it is much easier to make a smaller cut of pork, say the shoulder or picnic cut and roast it in the oven. Lechon asado is made in many different spanish speaking countries and what makes this one Cuban is the Cuban style mojo sauce marinade. The mojo sauce is made with sour orange juice and plenty or garlic along with some oregano and cumin and it is used to both marinate the pork before roasting and also at the table for drizzling or dipping.

Since this recipe is an in home adaptation of roasting a whole pig, there are several ways in which you could cook the pork. Cooking the pork in a slow cooker would be the easiest solution but since the picnic cut of the pork shoulder comes with the skin on I wanted to roast it in the oven to get some nice and crispy crackling. The first step was to make the mojo sauce and most recipes called for pureeing the sauce in a blender until smooth but since I do not have a blender I went with my food processor and ended up with a slightly chunkier version, though I kind of liked those nice chunks of garlic and it certainly tasted pretty amazing anyways. Next up was marinating the meat in the mojo over night which was pretty easy but it did create some difficulties with my desire to get some crispy crackling as wet skin does not crackle well. In the end I decided to pull the pork out of the marinade and early, pat the skin dry and let it dry out for an hour before scoring it the skin and rubbing in some salt. You can serve your Cuban style roast pork in one of two ways, sliced or pulled and the only really difference is how long you cook it. To get the crackling I started out by roasting the pork at a high temperature until the skin got nice and crispy and then I lowered the temperature to continue roasting until the pork was cooked. In the end I was able to get the crackling that I was after but it was more of a blackend crackling which was still addictively tasty but I did need to cover the pork with foil part way through cooking to prevent it from burning.

Once the pork was done roasting I pulled it out of the oven and while I let it rest and cool down before pulling it I caramelized onions in some of the mixture of mojo and juices from the bottom of the pan to mix into the pulled pork. When I marinated the pork I made sure to reserve some of the mojo to both mix into the pull pork and to serve with the meal for even more mojo-y goodness! I have to say that this Cuban style roast pork with crackling was an amazingly successful and fabulously tasty project that is definitely worth making for your family Sunday night dinner!

(Of course you all know that I did not make a roast pork just for the initial roast pork dinner! Keep an eye out for what I use the Cuban style roast pork in next!)

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)
I served the Cuban style roast pork with rice, Cuban style black beans (recipe to come) and fried plantain in addition to plenty of extra mojo sauce. This was one truly tasty and satisfying meal and luckily I have plenty of leftovers for quick meals during the week!

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

Prep Time: 10 minutes Marinate Time: 12 hours Cook Time: 5 hours Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes Servings: 4

A Cuban style slow roasted pork marinated in a super tasty sour orange and garlic mojo sauce.

  • 1 bone in, skin on pork shoulder about 4-5 lbs
  • 20 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour (seville) orange juice (or 1 cup orange juice + 1/2 cup lime juice)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  1. Puree the garlic, onion, sour orange juice, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender, place 2/3 of the mixture into a large sealable bag with the pork and marinate in the fridge overnight.
  2. Pull the pork out of the fridge 1 hour before roasting, take it out of the bag, set it with its skin side up, wipe the skin dry and let sit for 1 hour.
  3. Score the skin in 1/2 inch intervals and rub salt generously into the skin.
  4. Place the pork in a roasting pan, skin side up, roast in a preheated 450F/230C oven for 20 minutes or until the skin has become crackling, ie it has become golden, hardened and crispy.
  5. Reduce the heat to 325F/170C and roast until the pork reaches 170F for slicing or 195F for shredding, about 2-3 hours or 4-6 hours respectively. If the skin starts to get too dark tent it loosely with foil without folding the edges over to prevent steaming.
  6. Let the pork rest for 15 minutes, remove crackling and cut into small pieces, discard any extra fat and then slice or shred the pork. Remove the fat from the juices and serve with sliced pork or mix into shredded pork.
  7. Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of the juices from the roasting pan in a pan over medium-high heat, add the onion and saute until tender and caramelized, about 7-10 minutes.
  8. Serve the pork with the caramelized onions and remaining mojo.

Slow Cooker: Implement step 1, place the pork and marinade in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours before continuing with step 7.
Tip: Mix some mojo into the pork after pulling it; man is that mojo ever good!


Unknown said...

Thank you for this recipe. I will be trying soon. I love this dish.

Sharon B. said...

That looks amazing and so flavorful!

Rebecca said...

This looks really, really incredible. I love pulled pork but only ever do a basic Carolina dry rub, so I'm looking for ways to expand my flavours with it.

This seems perfect. I'm a stranger to Cuban food but very interested to find out more about it! I'll let you know how I get on :).

Duke Barnabus Von Guggenheimer said...

I make a similar dish called pernil al horno. I got the recipe from Their tip for getting the crackling to come out right is to cut under the fat layer and separating all but one edge to create a flap. This will allow you to season under the fat and skin layer while helping everything crisp up. Another tip that I found helpful was to NEVER cover your roast with foil or your crackling will get soggy! I love your site!

Kevin said...

Duke Barnabus Von Guggenheimer: I will have to try cutting under the fat layer next time to create the flap! Thanks for the tip! If you completely cover the pork with the foil it will trap in the moisture and thus 'steam' the the pork making the skin soggy, but if you just place a piece of foil on top without folding in the sides you will be ok and retain the crispy skin.

Anonymous said...

I love your recipes! Thank you!

jasi said...

love your recipes. this sounds delicious

Angela AnotherBitePlease said...

i love roasted pork...never had i can't wait for that bean recipe too!

Cookin' Canuck said...

It looks as though you nailed the flavors in this one, Kevin. What a great dish!

Foodycat said...

Gorgeous! And I have one last seville orange sitting in the freezer too.

Bev Weidner (Bev Cooks) said...


Seriously, dude.

We Are Not Martha said...

These photos are BEAUTIFUL!! And now I need lunch at 10:00 a.m. :)


Jennifurla said...

oh dear, that's mouth mwatering

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

i love Cuban flavor combos...

this looks amazing..

Savory Simple said...

Well this looks totally amazing.

Amy Gray said...

In the oven right now... can't wait!

Sarahmia said...

This looks delicious and we happen to have half a pork shoulder in the freezer right now... coincidence? I doubt it ;)

Anonymous said...

my favorite cuban restaurant makes this! i was always too scared to make it myself. that citrus garlic mojo sauce is bomb, that's what makes this dish so delish! thank you for sharing, i will make this soon!

Danielle said...

I am definitely giving this recipe a try! I wanted to let you know that I featured this in my "What I Bookmarked This Week" post - stop by and see!

Anonymous said...

If you cook the roast upside down for 20-25 minutes at 325°F in water only reaching up to where the meat begins, then turn the roast and rub generously with coarse salt on and down between the skin slices, roast at 180°F till it's done. If you'll need it, remove the juice and give it, till the crackling is perfect at 425°F - you will get the best crackling ever!
In Denmark it's one of our national dishes, and I have been doing it this way for over 40 years. Next time I will try to marinate the meat in the mojo sauce first.

Rebecca said...

Kevin, where have you been all my life? I made this this weekend. Had a HUGE pork shoulder that I marinated overnight and then just braised for about 6 hours in the oven. Strained and defatted the "jus" and mixed it in with the pulled pork. WONDERFUL!

Keren and Joe Jackson said...

I'm confused about one thing. I put 2/3 of the mixture in with the pork to marinade and then put the marinade in with the pork to slow cook. I'm assuming this is still just the 2/3 of the mixture? Do I leave the rest to 'cook' like a ceviche and then add it 'raw' to the pulled pork afterwards?

Kevin Lynch said...

Keren and Joe Jackson: The remaining 1/3 of the mojo is saved to serve with the meal at the table to drizzle on the meat and/or rice. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Amazing! served with blackbeans and rice and carmelized the onions with red bell peppers. Will definately do this again!

DBlogBean said...

Yeah- u overcooked the skin way too much-almost burnt. You don't have to put it on high for skin and then lower temp or cover it. You just have to leave it cooking for about 8 hrs for the shoulder at a lower temp. The skin will cook nicely and so will the rest of the pork. Also, about the pic you have of the plantains- are these the sweet ones?-I hope so. If so, the plantain you used is not ripe enough. If these are the green ones- then I'm not sure how you ate them cutting them like that. The green plantains must be cut into 1/2" or 1" pieces, then fried in hot oil until on both ends until you can easily put a knife through the center of the plantain. Afterwards, you take them out and flatten the pieces with a plantain flattening tool (usually wooden) if non available then u use a brown paper bag folded in half to flatten each plantain by hand. As you flatten them you put them back into the hot oil you were frying them until they are golden in color-remove from oil into paper towel to absorb some of the oil and then sprinkle with salt or garlic mojo.

Anonymous said...

Can I start the roast tonight and finish it tomorrow for the last 1 hour?

Kevin Lynch said...

Anonymous: You could do that but it would take more than the hour the next day to finish it. It might be better to finish it the day before and reheat it.

spencer said...

you have there 20 cloves of garlic, just wondering what kind of garlic you used?( I grow 30 different kinds so 20 cloves can be anywhere from 2 to 5 bulbs of garlic just want to make sure I don't use too much

Kevin Lynch said...

spencer: Growing your own garlic sounds like fun! I am stuck with the cheap imported from China variety at my local stores. It is about 2.5 of those smallish heads.

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