A pork dish popular in several parts of the world, notably including Spain, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, lechón is a pork dish which traditionally favours suckling pig cooked whole. It’s also described as a national dish of Cuba and Puerto Rico, with each of regional lechón asado recipe differing slightly. In Cuba, the pork is typically cooked outside, in the ground or in a ‘caja china’ roasting box, using a mojo criolla marinade comprising citrus juice, garlic, cumin, and oregano.
Owner of D’Ambrosi Fine Foods, chef Andrew D’Ambrosi’s take on the Cuban lechón asado recipe is simpler to cook at home, using only the shoulder, slow-cooked in the oven for eight hours. Originally from Brooklyn, Andrew D’Ambrosi spent most of his childhood in South Florida, where the multicultural cuisines of Miami inspired his passion for cooking. After graduating, he moved to London briefly before returning to New York, though he moved to Savennieres in the Loire Valley, France, when he and his wife, Jesse, purchased the Cointreau Estate, where they ran a fine dining restaurant and guest house. Today, they’re based in the Cotswolds, with their new concept D’Ambrosi Fine Foods having offered restaurant quality food-to-go since January 2020. Located in Stow-on-the-Wold, D’Ambrosi Fine Foods has already established itself as a gourmet destination with queues of both tourists and locals.
Described as ‘Cuban style roast pork’, Andrew D’Ambrosi’s lechón asado recipe also features a mojo made from reducing the cooking liquids alongside the addition of citrus. While the pork takes a long time to marinade and cook, it’s worth every minute. What’s more, most of that time is completely inactive, so you can just marinade in the fridge, put the pork in the oven, and just forget about it.
Lechón Asado (Cuban Roast Pork) Recipe
- Braising pan large enough for the pork and liquid
- 10-12 lb (4.5 – 6kg) pork shoulder skin on, blade bone in
- 20 g dried oregano
- 10 g ground cumin
- 10 g ground coriander
- 100 g minced garlic
- 10 g black pepper
- 25 g salt
- 100 g olive oil
- 1 l white wine
- 1 l water
- 4 limes juiced
- 2 oranges juiced
- ½ bunch fresh coriander chopped
- Place the pork shoulder skin-side down in a braising pan large enough to accommodate both the pork and the additional liquids.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the minced garlic and olive oil. Using your hands, thoroughly mix together until a paste is formed then spread liberally all over the meat side of the pork. Be careful not to get any on the skin.
- Once covered, flip the pork over so the skin is now facing up. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt over the skin to help leech moisture out and leave in the fridge overnight uncovered to assist dry out the skin (Your fridge will smell delicious the next morning).
The next day
- Ideally this should be done first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed if you’re comfortable keeping the oven on overnight as the pork will take 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 95 C (or its lowest setting if using a gas oven, but beware timings may vary).
- Remove the pork from the fridge and allow to temper for one hour. Add the water and wine then place on a stovetop burner. Turn the flame on high and heat until the liquid around the pork is boiling.
- Turn off and cover the pan in several layers of aluminium foil. Use a kitchen towel to tighten and seal the tinfoil against the pan. It will also protect you from burning yourself. Now carefully place the pan in the oven. (Do not put the towel in the oven).
- Cook for 8 hours.
To finish the pork
- Take the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Be careful not to burn yourself from the steam that will release.
- The pork should be butter soft so do not attempt to remove it. Let the braising pan cool off just enough to handle then carefully pour the braising liquid into a medium sized saucepan. Reserve a bit of the liquid in the braising pan to keep the bottom of the pork from burning.
- Turn the oven on to 280C (or its highest setting). Brush the skin with a little vegetable oil and place the pan back in the oven for 6-8 minutes to crisp the skin.
For the mojo
- Place the saucepan on the stovetop and reduce the braising liquid by 30%. Use a ladle to skim some of the fat. Now add the orange and lime juices and continue to reduce till the Mojo tastes “seasoned”.
- Take the pork from the oven. Pour the Mojo over and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve immediately.
RELATED: How To Make: Rack of Lamb