Can you believe we have snow, in Minnesota, in April? Really, our weather has been unpredictable with a few days in the 70’s but mostly just cold and dreary. None of that matters coz I’ve gone to Miami. In my mind, at least with this glorious dish: Cuban Lechon Asado – Cuban Pork Roast. You might know this roast, it’s the one with sour oranges and tons of garlic. Flavor to blow your mind.
Cuban Lechon Asado will make you cray cray as it cooks – your house will be warm and toasty from the long, slow roasting and the garlic and citrus will waft through and you’re gonna be like, “Is it done yet, is it done yet?!” And the wait will all be worth it. If you’re thinking about a party, think about Lechon Asado, but don’t be afraid to make it for a family dinner, because the leftovers, especially if they are Cubano Sandwiches, are every bit as good as the roast, itself.
About Cuban Lechon Asado:
My Lechon Asado is made from pork shoulder, slow-roasted in the oven. Cuban Lechon Asado is traditionally made with a fresh ham, rind and all, so a big old pork shoulder makes a great substitute. You won’t have quite the crackling skin, but the garlic and citrus marinade will get all caramelized on top of the roast and a little crunchy, too. If you can find a fresh ham, though, use it, the instructions are the same.
I barely adapted this recipe for Lechon Asado from the Three Guys from Miami. Those guys are amazing and check them out when you have a minute. By the way, if you can’t get sour orange, the Three Guys say to use a combo of orange, lemon, and lime. No food processor? The Three Guys show instructions on making by hand. Want to grill? The Three Guys have you covered. Maybe I should have just sent you over to their site, but this roast is just too good not to be included here!
You have options when you make Lechon Asado. The roast can be cooked until tender and juicy or cooked longer until it literally falls off the bone in shreds and chunks. Both ways are fantastic, but I don’t choose. Instead, I serve it sliced the first night and then rework the leftovers by cooking what is left until it can be pulled. If I have leftovers, that is!
Leftover Cuban Lechon Asado:
I do always hope I have leftover Cuban Lechon Asado. It’s a big roast, and I have no worries about making this for my smaller family because there is so much that can be done with leftover Lechon Asado. First, though, I take some slices for Cubano Sandwiches.
Cubanos are kind of like a bit of cooking alchemy. The ingredients are so few and so simple: roast pork, ham, cheese, pickle, and mustard, that it doesn’t seem as if they would be as tasty as they are! And this pork shoulder really “makes” the sandwiches.
Then, if I still have leftovers, I’ll cook them down to shreds & pull the meat for barbecued sandwiches, tacos, wraps or maybe enchiladas, like my Three Cheese Enchiladas with Pulled Pork and Rancheros Sauce. Or I might just roll up the shredded pork in tortillas and cover it with my easy Pantry Enchilada Sauce, add some cheese and bake. Or maybe I’ll make Empanadas if I’m feeling ambitious and have enough pork left. If there’s just a smidge of roast left, you can’t go wrong with Pork Fried Rice. Links are at the bottom of the page.
If you’ve cooked your roast and sliced it, and then want to cook the roast down until it shreds, just put the rest of the roast in the oven with a little liquid, tightly cover and cook at 325 degrees for another hour or until tender. If you have an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker, 10 to 15 minutes will usually do the trick, depending on the amount.
Don’t waste the bone from your pork roast, either, and save back a smidge of the meat, and if you’ve made the Cubanos, any leftover ham. Then make my Cuban Black Bean Soup. That recipe is usually made with ham, but the pork gives it a whole, new and equally delicious spin.
The Sauce & Sides for Cuban Lechon Asado:
The sauce for Lechon Asado, made from the reserved drippings, is a bit different from most I’ve seen. Red onion is added to the drippings from the roast and cooked until tender, then the reserved Mojo is tossed in and heated through, just long enough to take the edge off the garlic. It’s a deep, rich flavor enhanced by the fresher garlic and citrus.
All kinds of sides are great with Lechon Asado. rice or a rice dish like Moros y Cristianos, black beans, avocado, pineapple, like I added to mine, and of course, Tostones (plantain). I like to pass a little hot sauce, too, like my Sweet Pineapple Mango Habanero Sauce. Just to spice things up. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page for links. 🙂 And enjoy this roast, with whatever you serve it with!Print
Cuban Lechon Asado, Cuban Roast Pork
A classic Lechon Asado, a citrusy garlicky pork roast slowly cooked to slice or cooked a bit longer for pulling.
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 head of garlic, separated, smashed, skin removed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups sour orange juice and finely grated zest (If you can’t get sour orange juice in your area, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime)
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Shoulder & Sauce:
- 8-pound fresh ham or pork shoulder roast
- 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
- The Mojo
Add peppercorns to food processor and pulse to break down. Add garlic, salt, dried oregano, onion, and pulse again. Slowly, through the feed, add the sour orange juice until mixed thoroughly. The mixture should not be completely smooth.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan until warm, remove from heat and carefully add the mash and zest to it. Whisk to combine and let cool. Place a half a cup of it in the refrigerator.
Shoulder & Sauce:
Pierce the pork all over, multiple times with a very sharp knife, working it in fairly deeply. Ready a roasting dish, just a bit larger than the pork, line with a generous amount of plastic, hanging over the edges. (Enough to wrap the pork in) and place the pork on top.
Pour the garlic mixture all over the pork, rubbing it into the cuts and crevices. Pull the plastic up over the sides and top, sealing the marinade tightly to the pork. Refrigerate for a minimum two to three hours, but overnight is definitely preferable.
When ready to cook, remove the roast about 30 minutes beforehand, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove plastic and scoop as much of the marinade as possible up and over the pork. Place in oven, turn down to 325 degrees and cook for about 4 1/2 hours for a tender roast (temperature should register at 170 to 175 degrees) or longer for a pulled roast (temperature should be at about 195.)
Baste roast occasionally with the juices, and watch the liquid level at the bottom of the pan. Add water if necessary, and it is likely it will be – do not let the juices dry and burn.
Remove from oven, tent lightly with foil and let rest for 20 to 25 minutes. Place the juices in a saucepan, defat if desired (strain & save the fat if making bread for Cuban sandwiches) and heat the juices in a small saucepan over medium-high. Add in onion and cook for several minutes until the onion is tender. Add the reserved Mojo and cook for a just moment or two longer to take off the raw garlic taste. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.
Pour a little of the sauce over the sliced or shredded pork and pass the rest.
Allow 1/4 to 1/2 pound per person.
I’ll be taking Cuban Lechon Asado to Fiesta Friday, an ongoing bloggers event put on by Angie of the Novice Gardener. This week it’s co-hosted by Julianna @Foodie On Board and Hilda @Along The Grapevine.Thanks, Guys!
Photos below: Note that I had forgotten the peppercorns! I had to unwrap my roast and add them. See how many times I “stabbed” this roast – really work the mojo into the slits! Wrap tightly to hold all that mojo close to the meat.