Recipes · Cooking tips · Techniques

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

In Cuban Culture, roast pork (lechon asado) is the meal served on all special occasions. Christmas, Weddings, New Year’s… roast pork is on the menu. This is a traditional recipe using a homemade mojo marinade. Cuban roast pork is a two-day event. The pork needs to marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Then you roast it, low and slow for hours, so make sure you plan for that. Oh, and something else to plan for; have plenty of snacks on roasting day because while that pork is cooking your house will smell amazing. Everyone will be asking: “when will it be ready?” “Is it ready yet?” Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

10 lb. Pork Shoulder (pork picnic)

2 Heads of Garlic, peeled, divided

1½ cups Sour Orange Juice (3-4 lbs. Sour Oranges)

2 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Oregano, dried

¼ tsp. Cumin

1 Bay Leaf

2 tsp. Kosher Salt (plus 1 tbsp. to crisp the skin) divided

 

You will also need

A large pan to marinate to pork

A large marinating or roasting bag, if desired

Plastic Wrap to cover the pork while marinating

A large roasting pan with a rack

Aluminum Foil

 

Make the mojo marinade

Peel the garlic. Reserve 8-10 whole garlic cloves. Smash the remaining garlic cloves; place them on a cutting board and give them a good whack with the side of a large knife. Add the garlic and about ½ tsp. kosher salt to a mortar and pestle. Work the garlic until you break it down into small flat pieces. Add the smashed garlic, sour orange juice, olive oil, oregano, cumin, 1½ tsp. salt, and the bay leaf to a medium bowl or jar. Stir or shake to combine well. Let the marinade sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, a couple of hours is better. Shake or stir well before using.

 

Get step-by-step instructions (with pictures) by checking out our mojo marinade recipe. There’s even a substitute for sour orange juice, just in case you can’t find them in your area.

 

Marinate the pork

Cook’s note: We lined the pan with a large roasting bag (I think they’re made for turkeys). We found them in the foil and plastic wrap section of the supermarket. These bags are great, they contain the mojo and you can seal them tight with a knot.

 

Place the pork in a large pan, make small slits (about 1-2” deep) on the skin side of the pork and insert the reserved (whole) garlic cloves into the slits. Tip: Dip the clove in the marinade for easy insertion.

 

Turn the pork over (skin side down) and make about 10-12 small slits (about 1-2” deep) in the meat. Using a ladle or spoon, start pouring the marinade into the slits you made. Then pour the remaining marinade over the pork. Sprinkle another ½ tsp. or so of salt over the pork, if desired.

Cuban Roast Pork Marinating Steps Collage

 

 

Seal the bag by making a tight knot on the top, or cover the pan well using a generous amount of plastic wrap. Seriously use several layers. The smell of this marinating pork is strong and will permeate the refrigerator. While the pork roast marinade is delicious, I don’t want my refrigerator smelling like it for days.

Pork with Mojo Marinade in a Bag

 

Marinate the Cuban roast pork, skin side up, in the refrigerator overnight. You want the fleshy side sitting in the marinade.

 

Time to roast

Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 – 45 minutes before roasting (providing it’s cool in your kitchen). Preheat oven to 325°F. The marinated pork will be a grayish color, that’s normal; it’s the citrus working on the meat.

Pork After Marinating Overnight

 

Place the pork on a roasting pan, skin side down. Use a roasting pan that has a rack so the pork shoulder is not sitting on the bottom of the pan. Pour the marinade over the pork. Brush any loose pieces of garlic off the pork. They will start to burn quickly. Also, pour just a little bit of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. You’ll have to add a little more during the roasting time too. The drippings and garlic on the bottom of the pan will start to burn and smoke. The water keeps this in check.

 

About 1½ – 2 hours into the roasting time tent the pork. Take a piece of aluminum foil (about the size of the pork shoulder) and loosely cover. Just place it on top, don’t wrap it.

 

Roast the pork for 7 – 8 hours until the internal temperature reaches at least 170° F. Check the temperature on several different spots.

Cuban Roast Pork Underside

 

To crisp the skin

Remove the pork from the oven and carefully flip it over so it’s skin side up. Be very careful during this step as the roast is heavy and hot! Fill a small bowl or cup with water and add a generous amount of salt (about 1 tbsp. for 1 cup of water), stir. Drip the salted water on the pork roast and brush it all over the skin. Repeat several times.

Brushing Water and Salt on Cuban Roast Pork Skin

 

If you were roasting on the middle rack, like we were, move the rack down one, just so the pork isn’t sitting too close to the heat element. Switch the oven to the low broiler setting.

 

Very Important Cook’s Note

Do not leave the oven’s side until you finish this step. Turn on the oven light and look in every minute or so. The skin will crisp and brown quickly, it will go from perfectly golden brown to burnt in minutes, if not seconds.

 

Once the skin is bubbling and it may even start to crackle, carefully remove the pork from the oven and allow it to rest at least 15-20 minutes before carving. Serves 8-10

Cuban Roast Pork meat being held by a large fork

 

Cuban Roast Pork
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
7 hrs
Marinating overnight
8 hrs
Total Time
8 hrs
 
This is a traditional recipe using a homemade mojo marinade. Cuban roast pork is a two-day event. The pork needs to marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Then you roast it, low and slow for hours, so make sure you plan for that.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cuban
Keyword: pork
Servings: 10
Calories: 716 kcal
Ingredients
  • 10 lb. Pork Shoulder pork picnic
  • 2 Heads of Garlic peeled, divided
  • cups Sour Orange Juice 3-4 lbs. Sour Oranges
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Oregano dried
  • ¼ tsp. Cumin
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 tsp. Kosher Salt plus 1 tbsp. to crisp the skin divided
You will also need
  • A large pan to marinate to pork
  • A large marinating or roasting bag if desired
  • Plastic Wrap to cover the pork while marinating
  • A large roasting pan with a rack
  • Aluminum Foil
Instructions
Make the mojo marinade
  1. Peel the garlic. Reserve 8-10 whole garlic cloves. Smash the remaining garlic cloves.

  2. Add the garlic and about ½ tsp. kosher salt to a mortar and pestle. Work the garlic until you break it down into small flat pieces.

  3. Add the smashed garlic, sour orange juice, olive oil, oregano, cumin, 1½ tsp. salt, and the bay leaf to a medium bowl or jar. Stir or shake to combine well. Let the marinade sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, a couple of hours is better. Shake or stir well before using.

Marinate the pork
  1. Note: We lined the pan with a large roasting bag. We found them in the foil and plastic wrap section of the supermarket. The bag will contain the mojo and you can seal it tight with a knot.

  2. Place the pork in a large pan, make small slits (about 1-2” deep) on the skin side of the pork and insert the reserved (whole) garlic cloves into the slits. Tip: Dip the clove in the marinade for easy insertion.

  3. Turn the pork over (skin side down) and make about 10-12 small slits (about 1-2” deep) in the meat. 

  4. Using a ladle or spoon, start pouring the marinade into the slits you made. Then pour the remaining marinade over the pork. Sprinkle another ½ tsp. or so of salt over the pork, if desired.

  5. Seal the bag by making a tight knot on the top, or (if not using a bag) cover the pan well using a generous amount of plastic wrap. 

  6. Marinate the Cuban roast pork, skin side up, in the refrigerator overnight. You want the fleshy side sitting in the marinade.
Time to roast
  1. Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 – 45 minutes before roasting (providing it’s cool in your kitchen).

  2.  Preheat oven to 325°F

  3. Place the pork on a roasting pan, skin side down. Use a roasting pan that has a rack so the pork shoulder is not sitting on the bottom of the pan.

  4. Pour the marinade over the pork. Brush any loose pieces of garlic off the pork. They will start to burn quickly. Also, pour just a little bit of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. You’ll have to add a little more during the roasting time too. The drippings and garlic on the bottom of the pan will start to burn and smoke. The water keeps this in check.

  5. About 1½ - 2 hours into the roasting time tent the pork. Take a piece of aluminum foil (about the size of the pork shoulder) and loosely cover. Just place it on top, don’t wrap it.
  6. Roast the pork for 7 – 8 hours until the internal temperature reaches at least 170° F. Check the temperature on several different spots.

To crisp the skin
  1. Remove the pork from the oven and carefully flip it over so it’s skin side up. Be very careful during this step as the roast is heavy and hot!
  2. Fill a small bowl or cup with water and add a generous amount of salt (about 1 tbsp. for 1 cup of water), stir. Drip the salted water on the pork roast and brush it all over the skin. Repeat several times.
  3. If you were roasting on the middle rack, move the rack down one, just so the pork isn’t sitting too close to the heat element.

  4. Switch the oven to the low broiler setting.

Very Important Cook’s Note
  1. Do not leave the oven’s side until you finish this step. Turn on the oven light and look in every minute or so. The skin will crisp and brown quickly, it will go from perfectly golden brown to burnt in minutes, if not seconds.
  2. Once the skin is bubbling and it may even start to crackle, carefully remove the pork from the oven.

  3. Allow the pork roast to rest at least 15-20 minutes before carving.

Nutrition Facts
Cuban Roast Pork
Amount Per Serving
Calories 716 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 54%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 303mg 101%
Sodium 727mg 30%
Potassium 1627mg 46%
Total Carbohydrates 4g 1%
Sugars 3g
Protein 89g 178%
Vitamin A 2.2%
Vitamin C 27.2%
Calcium 7.8%
Iron 32.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
In Cuban Culture, roast pork (lechon asado) is the meal served on all special occasions. Christmas, Weddings, New Year’s… roast pork is on the menu. This is a traditional recipe using a homemade mojo marinade. Roast pork is a two-day event. The pork needs to marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Then you roast it, low and slow for hours. #Cubanroastpork #roastpork #pork #holidays #Christmas #Cubanrecipes #Cubanfood

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