Summertime Pork + Cuban Sandwiches

Here's an embarrassing confession from someone who has worked on a farm for nearly a year: when I was researching pork butt recipes for this post, I assumed the cut was from, you know...the butt. Turns out, ham is from that region of the pig, and pork butt, or Boston butt, is part of the shoulder (as is the pork picnic cut). So all pork butts are from the shoulder, but not all pork shoulders are butts. You follow? 

Pork lessons aside, I wanted to find a recipe that made sense for summer, and wasn't another version of pulled pork. This Cuban recipe is just what I was looking for- the marinade uses fresh summer flavors, the pork is roasted in the over for less time than slow cooker recipes, and we made Cuban sandwiches with the finished product! 

The original recipe (which can be found here) called for a 3.5 lb. boneless pork shoulder, but I was curious how a pork butt or pork picnic cut would work. Any of these cuts can be used, but (as I mention below), depending on the weight of the meat, cook time will need adjusted. 

Cuban Marinated Pork 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest 
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice 
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves, finely chopped 
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1 tablespoon minced oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 2.5-5 lbs. pork shoulder, Boston butt, or pork picnic 

Directions:

Combine the orange juice, cilantro leaves, mint leaves, and smashed garlic cloves in a food processor, and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add this mixture to a ziplock bag, along with the rest of the oil, zest, lime juice, oregano, and cumin. (We were short on ziplocks, so I pulsed the ingredients, then mixed with the rest of the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and used plastic wrap as a ziplock stand-in.)


Place the meat in a baking dish, and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, 425 if meat is 3.5 lbs. or more. 

Place a wire rack (cooling rack works great) on a baking sheet. Place the pork on the rack and season with salt and pepper. 

Roast the pork for 15 minutes, 20-25 for a heavier cut (should be slightly browned). 
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and roast for another 45 minutes to hour and a half. Cook time will vary based on weight of the cut. Check the pork at 45 minutes regardless of weight. Pork is done when it has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees. 

Transfer pork to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 20 minutes. 

Carve against the grain and serve. Enjoy!

     

    But wait...there's more! This pork has a delicious flavor from the lime and orange juices mixed with mint and garlic, but if you want to keep going with the Cuban theme, use some of the meat to make Cuban sandwiches! Traditionally Cubans, or Cubanos, have ham and salami with the pork, but in the States it is common to serve them with just ham and pork. I could have added ham to ours, but wanted this fancy pork to have its moment in the sun, so we loaded them up with pork and they were great. Let us know if you try either of these recipes, and how they turn out!

    Cuban Sandwiches

    Ingredients:

    • One 8-to-10-inch Cuban bread loaf, halved lengthwise (I couldn't find Cuban bread at our local store, so I subbed an unsliced Italian loaf from the deli)
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup yellow mustard
    • About 1/2 cup dill pickles
    • Roast pork
    • Swiss cheese slices
    • Salt, to taste  

    Directions:

    Slice the bread lengthwise in half, and across to make 4 halves total (2 sandwiches).

     

    Spread the butter on the outside of the bread, and place the bread butter-side down on a cutting board or plate. 


    Spread the mustard on all pieces of the bread. 

     

    Cover half of the bread pieces with pickles and half with the pork, then add the swiss cheese slices. 

    Combine the halves to complete the sandwiches and grill on a panini press or grill until the cheese has melted the bread is toasted. Enjoy! 

    -Lindsay File

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