Cuban-Inspired Mojo Pork
Pork is a favorite in my family. Whether it’s bacon, chops, ham, sausage or chicharones, pork is delicious. You can have it on sandwiches or on its own, sweet or savory, hot or cold, or however you feel like. No matter how I eat it, I love it tender, juicy, and flavorful.
Pork is a popular meat in Latin American dishes. Every Latin American family has their tried-and-true recipe for pernil, a delicious pork dish. This is a slow cooker version where the pork cooks at a low temp for the long daytime hours. When you come home, the smell of the pork will invite you in. I promise that your mouth will water and you might just eat it straight from the slow cooker.
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I judge Mexican restaurants by how well they cook their pork. Is it tasty or bland? Is it tender, juicy, and moist or tough and dry? My husband laughs at me because I never fail to eat carnitas as a way of sussing out how good the restaurant is. If they don’t make a good pork dish, I won’t eat there again.
I developed this recipe because it was time for me to have my own pork recipe to pass along to my kids. This recipe is of the dump-and-go variety, which – if you don’t want to work too hard to have a good dinner on the table at the end of the day – is the way to go. Although, I strongly recommend that you do marinate the meat overnight. It’s worth the ten extra minutes to do that.
This recipe makes good work out of a pork shoulder. The shoulder is a tough cut of meat with a good amount of fat marbled throughout. Between the acidic nature of the juice and the low and slow method of cooking, the meat finally gives way and becomes tender and flavorful.
- 7-quart slow cooker
- Slow cooker liner
- Juicer (optional, but helpful)
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Tongs to handle the meat
- 2 1-gallon freezer safe Ziploc bags
- 3 pound pork shoulder
- 1 medium sized white onion
- Oranges (enough for about 1 cup of juice) (See Notes below)
- Limes (enough for about 1/2 cup of juice)
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
- 1 head of garlic, cloves removed, peeled, and smashed with a knife
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
Note: if you wanted to cheat, you could use bottled orange juice, but I found that the extra sugar throws the flavor off for me. It’s worth the work to squeeze the juice yourself. You could also use bottled lime juice, but the flavor profile is off in my opinion.
- Night before: Mix the 1 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of lime juice, olive oil, oregano, and garlic in a two cup measuring cup.
- Salt and pepper the pork shoulder. If the shoulder is folded over, make sure to salt and pepper inside the fold as well.
- Place the pork shoulder in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag.
- Pour the juice mixture into the bag with the pork.
- Remove as much air as possible and massage the bag to distribute the juices all over the meat.
- I recommend that you add the marinade back into another Ziploc bag, just in case the first bag doesn’t hold.
- Place the bag into the fridge for at least one hour. Preferably, you can do this for six to eight hours. If you can, flip the bag at least once.
- Slice your onions. (Sometimes I add those to the marinade and sometimes I don’t. I don’t think it makes a ton of difference either way.)
- The next day, set up your slow cooker. I usually line my slow cooker with a plastic liner made for this, which makes clean up super easy.
- Add the sliced onions to the bottom of the slow cooker. If they are in the marinade with the meat, don’t worry about this step.
- Add the shoulder and turn it so that the fat cap is on top. You want the fat to render through the meat if possible. If you have garlic or onions stuck to the top, try to move them to the sides of the shoulder.
- Add two bay leaves.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Serve over Instant Pot Jasmine Rice. Make sure to pour the juices over the rice. You’re welcome.
I meant to try this as part of a Cuban Sandwich, but ate it all before I had the chance! This pork was fork-tender and so juicy. The flavors of the citrus and garlic make me hum while I eat it. And, my kids really enjoyed this as well. My littlest one likes this pork with white rice and sweet corn. How do you like your Cuban Mojo Pork?
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Buen provecho! – Sami B.
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