Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home

There will be times when our weekly ‘Eating In’ post may stray from our restaurant obsession to focus on special occasion food experiences that must be shared with fellow Gothamist foodies.

This is one of those times.

A Cuban-American friend of ours recently invited Gothamist to his family’s home in West Palm Beach for a traditional Cuban style pig roast. This has always been something that we’ve wanted to do, so we jumped on a plane to, well, get our pig on.

Our Cuban friends usually relied on the traditional technique of digging a pit and slow roasting the pig over coals. But a family friend by the name of Pastor had turned his backyard into a temple for year round pig roasting (he also grew the largest avocados Gothamist has ever seen). Pastor, being the pig genius that he is, installed two – yes two – permanent tile lined Caja China boxes in his yard, along with a pig prep/seasoning area and an outdoor kitchen for making the traditional accompaniments to the pork. The boxes coal roast a whole pig to a crunchy moistness in about five hours. Pastor buys and cleans the pig himself, seasons it with salt, pepper and lime and lets it roast away.

After stopping by to check out the roasting during the day, we returned five hours later to pick up our 60 pound pig, buttery yuca garlic mash, and black beans and rice. The final piece that took it over the top was a garlicky, herbal mojo that we watched our friend’s mother prepare in a mortar and pestle. We slathered it over evey piece of pork – from the crunchy skin, to our favorite part, the juicy ribs.

Since we haven’t figured out how to install a Caja China into our one bedroom apartment, we’ll just stick to spreading that brilliant mojo on the seared and roasted pork from our tiny oven...for now.

Gothamist Recipe

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Cuban Style Roasted Pork Loin
with traditional mojo and creamy yuca

Like the traditional pig roast, this pork is best when marinated in the mojo at least three hours before cooking. Take the extra time to do this – it makes a big difference in the results. Other than the marinade, the only other time consuming aspect of this dish is boiling the yuca…however, it’s all very low stress. This is a great dish to make on a lazy Sunday night.

Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves two people

2 medium sized yucas (at Latin American grocers, also at fairway and fresh direct)
extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Unsalted butter
1 bunch cilantro
1 lemon, 2 limes
1 head of garlic
1 pint whole milk
1.5 lb pork loin

Estimated cost of ingredients: $17 at Fairway

Special Materials:
- large resealable plastic bag
- mortar and pestle or food processor

Make the Mojo

Finely chop all of the leaves from the whole bunch of cleaned cilantro. Rough chop 6 medium/large cloves of the garlic. Place the garlic in a heavy based mortar (you can combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse only a few times). Add a healthy pinch of salt. Begin vigorously mashing the garlic with the pestle for a few minutes. Add the cilantro and mash again for a few minutes. Add a :02 pour of olive oil to the mixture and mash again. Finally, pour in enough olive oil to cover ingredients, then add a few more glugs of oil – should be an inch of oil over where the ingredients stop. Mash and mix again and let rest.

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Marinate the Pork

Peel all of the green rind off of the lime, without the white pith. Chop rind finely. In a sealable plastic bag, combine pork, all but about 7-8 tablespoons of mojo and lime rind. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate pork, chilled, 3 hours or overnight.

Make the Yuca

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil about 1hour before dinner. Trim ends from fresh yuca and peel remainder, removing all waxy brown skin and pinkish layer underneath.
Cut yuca into 3-inch-thick pieces. Boil yuca in water until tender and starting to fall apart, about 40 minutes.

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Make the Pork

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain pork, discarding marinade, and pat dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. In an oven proof heavy skillet, add one glug of olive oil to the pan and place over high heat. When very hot but not smoking, place pork in pan. Sear for 3 minutes without turning and flip. Sear again for three minutes and place in oven for about 10-12 minutes. Transfer pork to cutting board and let rest for about 10 minutes, covered with foil. Do not carve it before resting or the juices will run out. After checking the doneness, you can pop it back into the oven to cook for another minute or two.
While the pan is still hot, squeeze lemon and lime juice into pan and scrape the brown bits from the bottom. Reserve.

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Finish the Yuca
Drain yuca from water and return yuca to pot with 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoon butter, salt, pepper and lime juice squeezed from one whole lime. Whip and mash the yuca with a whisk, adding additional milk if desired.
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Finish the Dish

Place a pile of the yuca on the bottom of the plate. Slice the pork and fan on top of the yuca. Spoon some of the pan juices onto the pork. Garnish the pork and plate with the reserve mojo.

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