The pork shoulder is a cook’s best friend. It is a forgiving cut of meat due to its need for long cook times, and the high fat content that helps keep it moist throughout the process.
Because of the high fat content, the shoulder eats very rich, so pairing the pork shoulder with an acidic sauce helps balance all of that richness out.
Inspiration from Cuban cuisine
In this recipe, we will be gleaning inspiration from Cuban cuisine, which leans heavily on bright citrus flavors and earthy chilies and pungent garlic and onion. All of these flavors meld together in this braised pork dish that is as versatile as it is delicious.
You can serve this dish alongside steamed rice and Cuban black beans, or roll it up in a corn tortilla for a delicious, albeit nontraditional, Cuban pork taco.
- Mixing bowl
- 4-6 qt Dutch oven
Mix all of the spices and zest together in a mixing bowl and rub the pork shoulder with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and preferably overnight.
In a 4-6 qt Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat until it reaches the simmering point. Sear the pork for about three minutes on both sides until it reaches a deep golden brown color. Remove from the pan and if necessary refresh the oil, meaning remove any burned oil from the pan and add some fresh oil.
Sear the onion and jalapeno until they are blistered and browning. Be sure to scrape the fond, or browned bits, off of the bottom of the pan. Once the onion and jalapeno are looking about right, add the smashed garlic cloves and cook for another minute.
Deglaze the pan with one cup of chicken stock, and then return the pork to the pan. If needed, add more chicken stock until the pork is halfway submerged. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Bring the liquid to a boil. Once the braising liquid reaches a boil, place the lid on the pot and put it in the oven. Every hour, lift the lid and baste the top of the pork with the liquid using a large spoon or ladle. The pork is finished when it is falling away from the bone.
Remove the pot from the oven and let it rest for at least thirty minutes.
Take the pork out of the liquid and strain out any of the vegetables in the liquid. We now want to use this liquid to make our Mojo, which isn’t necessarily a traditional Mojo de Ajo, but it is delicious.
If you let the braising liquid sit in the refrigerator for about twenty to thirty minutes, any separated fat will begin to collect on the surface. We want to remove the fat using a spoon, carefully skimming the surface so that we don’t lose too much of that liquid. We should have about a half cup of liquid left after this is done.
Now, remember the citrus we zested for the pork rub? We want to juice those limes and oranges now, along with more so that we get enough acid to cut through the salty and rich braising liquid. Chopped herbs, a heaping mound of garlic and a good amount of olive oil will finish this sauce out.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Salt to taste. As braising liquid reduces it can become a bit salty, so the Mojo may not need any excess salt. If it seems too salty, then adjust the flavor by adding more oil or citrus until you find a good balance.