I discovered what all the fuss was about the first time I had Mojo Roast Pork in a local place called The Twisted Cafe in Woodenville, WA. The owner based his menu on his mother’s traditional Cuban recipes. After I tasted his mojo pork, I went straight home and starting looking for recipes, partly because I wanted to make it and partly to find out what made it so incredibly good!
Authentic Mojo Sauce is both a marinade and a sauce. It was originally made with juice from the Seville orange, a sour orange that is popular in Cuba but hard to find in the U.S.. I adapted the recipe by substituting lemon and lime juice for some of the orange juice, which also reduces the sugar content. You won’t believe how good this is until you try it; it is one of the world’s all-time best dishes!
PORK WITH MOJO SAUCE
The pork needs to marinate for at least 8 hours, so don’t rush it.
8 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup cilantro or parsley, lightly packed, optional
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, lightly packed, optional
1 tablespoon orange zest (the thin colored part of the rind), in thin strips
1 teaspoon lemon zest, in thin strips
1 teaspoon lime zest, in thin strips
1 Turkish bay leaf
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2/3 cup of olive oil
1 fresh, bone-in pork shoulder with a good layer of fat (about 4 pounds)
Mojo marinade, ingredients above
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup water for pan
Make Marinade: Place the garlic, cilantro or parsley and mint, if using, citrus zests, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper in a blender or a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the citrus juices and olive oil and blend well.
Pierce the pork shoulder all over with a skewer or a narrow bladed knife. Put pork in a non-reactive dish that will fit in the refrigerator. Pour the marinade over the pork and rub it in with your fingers. Cover the pork and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, turning and basting occasionally.
Take the meat out of the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Remove pork from marinade and place in an oven-safe dish or roasting pan with the fat-side up. Put ¼ cup water in the pan and spoon a little of the marinade over the meat. Cover loosely with a lid or tent with foil. Do not cover tightly or meat will steam rather than roast. Reserve and refrigerate remaining marinade; there should be about ¾ of a cup left. Put the roasting dish in the hot oven and immediately reduce the heat to 325°F. Roast for 3½ to 4 hours or until tender, basting with the pan juices every hour or so. (Add a little more water to the pan if needed to keep drippings from burning.) Remove the foil and bake a little longer or put under broiler until brown and crisp. (This recipe is very forgiving; it is hard to over cook something that has a lot of fat.)
Remove baking pan from the oven and drain the drippings into a large skillet, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. You will need about ¼ cup of the drippings for the skillet. Tent the pork with aluminum foil and let rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
While the roast rests, put the onions in the skillet containing the drippings and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the rest of the reserved marinade and cook for another 10 minutes until the juices are reduced to make a sauce. Add a little water or orange juice if sauce is too thick.
Slice the pork and arrange on a platter. Transfer the onions to the platter and pour the sauce from the skillet over all or serve separately. Garnish platter with fresh parsley or cilantro, mint sprigs, and sliced lemons, oranges, and limes, if desired. For a nice touch, add lemon halves that have been browned under the broiler to make them extra juicy. Serve hot and enjoy!
Makes about 10 servings
Calories: 456; Fat: 34.4 g,* Protein: 31.7 g; Carbohydrates: 6.5 g; Fiber: 0.9 g, Net Carbs: 5.4 g
*All of the olive oil and marinade are included in the nutrition data, but some will be left over.
Mojo Pork would traditionally be served with rice, black beans, and boiled yuca root (cassava). Black beans are the lowest in carbs of the three choices, but yuca is the only one that is considered Paleo. It tastes like potatoes when boiled.
Photo © 2016, Judy Barnes Baker
© 2016, Judy Barnes Baker