How to Roast a Pig the Cuban Way

Hace mucho tiempo atrás, cuando empezó la fiebre por las páginas personales en Internet, participé en un concurso donde el tema era el Día del Padre en Geocities, y gané un premio. Quiero compartir con ustedes esta página que escribí sobre una tradición muy de mi familia especial en esta época de Fin de Año. Aquí les va, espero la disfruten!

MY FATHER'S
NEW YEARS DAY BARBECUE

(or How to roast a pig the Cuban way)

Manuel, my Dad, is an authentic Cuban. Even though he left Cuba more than 35 years ago, he still speaks, acts, cooks and eats Cuban. If you've met any Cubans you know what I am talking about. They will never forget their roots, their customs, their food… And that is the case with my Father. He starts early in the morning, with his Cuban style coffee, filling the house with the strong aroma, fried fish eggs or "huevos de lisa", casabe or yucca bread, and sometimes when possible, turtle eggs. He was born in Santa Cruz del Sur, in Camaguey. Next to the sea.

After 35 years, our kitchen is still always full of guava paste, guava jelly, cuban style crackers or "galletas cubanas", ham & cheese spread or "pasta de bocadito", sometimes imported from one of our trips to Miami. Cubans, and specially my Father, say that guava or "guayaba" was invented in Cuba. So was coffee, rum, sugar, tobbacco, etc. etc. etc. According to him, Cubans invented everything and Cuba was the greatest country in the World. Of course, the largest mangoes in the World could also be found only in Camaguey. I always laugh when he says this.

I have to admit though, that Cubans do know how to roast pork . And this is no joke. When Americans (and the rest of the World) are having Ham or Turkey for Christmas and New Year's , Cubans dig a pit in their backyard and bury a whole pig, cover it with banana tree leaves, one or two metal sheets, and then build a wood fire over it. The pig will slowly cook during 9 to 10 hours and be ready just in time for New Year's Eve Dinner.

Many years ago, when we were all younger and lived in a house with a backyard, Manuel would prepare this Cuban specialty, Lechón Asado a la Cubana. He would marinate the pork one or two days before, and start digging the hole and cooking the pork at 6 in the morning on New Year's Eve. Of course, this was a kind of ritual. He would make a party out of it. His friends would come over early and help him take care of the fire. They would hang out all day in the backyard listening to Cuban music and sipping Daiquiris and mojitos cubanos. Eventually, he would check the animal once in a while, because after 8 or 9 hours the skin would start getting very crispy and with a knife he would cut out pieces and eat it with his friends and anyone around. Chicharrón, or crispy pork cracklings, is one of the best things in the world, of course, very fattening, but delicious. The pork would always show up at the dinner table with half of it's skin missing. I dedicate this page to the funniest and greatest guy in the World. I can say that I am very proud of being half Cuban; that is where I got my sense of humor, my love for food and the good things in life.


My father (with the hat) and his friend Toño cooking the Rice and Yuca over the BBQ

Lechón Asado a la Cubana
(Roast Pork, Cuban Style)


1 whole pig, 20 lbs., emptied and clean
Sour oranges (naranjas agrias)
garlic
oregano
salt & pepper
(A backyard, banana leaves, metal sheets, large roasting pan, wood)
The day before, you have to marinate the pig. If you have extra space in your refrigerator, it is best to do it 2 days before. The pig should be clean, and opened in half through the belly. Place the pig in a large roasting pan. Rub the insides with a lot of chopped garlic, oregano, and salt to taste. Squeeze enough sour oranges and "bathe" the pig with the juice. Cover with foil paper and keep in the refrigerator.
The morning you want to roast the pig, dig a hole in the ground large enough to fit the pork. Cover the ground well with banana leaves (to avoid getting the pig dirty) and place the pig inside. Cover with more banana leaves, one or two metal sheets (hojas de zinc) large enough to cover the hole completely. Build your fire on top of the metal sheets with wood. Depending on the size of the pig and the heat, it should take around 9 to 10 hours to cook. Test for doneness by pricking the thigh with the point of a knife, if the liquid runs clear, the meat is done.

Cuban Style Roast Pork is traditionally served with Arroz Congri (Red Beans with Rice) and Yuca con Mojo (Boiled Yucca with Garlic Sauce).


Arroz Congrí
(Red Beans with Rice)
12 ounces red beans
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 lb. salt pork
2 quarts water
1/2 lb. lean pork or ham
1/4 cup Spanish olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium onions, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 cups long-grain rice
Soak the beans in a large pot with water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat and let cook for 1 hour and a half to forty five minutes or until tender, adding water if necessary.

Cut the salt pork into medium chunks and cook in a large casserole. Remove from casserole and drain in paper towel. Cook the ham chunks in the rendered fat for 5 minutes. Remove the ham and wipe out the casserole with more paper towel.

Add the oil and cook the onion, garlic, and bell pepper over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Return the salt pork and ham to the casserole.

Add the beans and 5 cups of the cooking liquid (add water if necessary) to the onions and bell pepper. Raise the heat to high, add the oregano, cumin, sugar, salt, pepper, and rice, and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the rice with a fork, reduce the heat to low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more until done.

Yuca con Mojo
(Boiled Yucca with Garlic Sauce)
6 medium-size yuccas, peeled and cut 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
1 cup sour orange juice
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup Spanish Olive Oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, optional
In a large pot over medium heat, simmer the yucca, covered in salted water, until very tender, 25 to 30 minutes, and drain.
Meanwhile, prepare the Garlic Sauce, or Mojo Criollo: Mash the garlic and salt into a paste. Stir in the orange juice. In a saucepan, heat the oil just to a boiling point and remove it from the heat. Whisk in the orange juice mixture until well blended.

Transfer the yucca to a serving bowl or platter, and toss with the garlic sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

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EL AMOR POR LA COCINA: How to Roast a Pig the Cuban Way


12.15.2005

How to Roast a Pig the Cuban Way

Hace mucho tiempo atrás, cuando empezó la fiebre por las páginas personales en Internet, participé en un concurso donde el tema era el Día del Padre en Geocities, y gané un premio. Quiero compartir con ustedes esta página que escribí sobre una tradición muy de mi familia especial en esta época de Fin de Año. Aquí les va, espero la disfruten!

MY FATHER'S
NEW YEARS DAY BARBECUE

(or How to roast a pig the Cuban way)

Manuel, my Dad, is an authentic Cuban. Even though he left Cuba more than 35 years ago, he still speaks, acts, cooks and eats Cuban. If you've met any Cubans you know what I am talking about. They will never forget their roots, their customs, their food… And that is the case with my Father. He starts early in the morning, with his Cuban style coffee, filling the house with the strong aroma, fried fish eggs or "huevos de lisa", casabe or yucca bread, and sometimes when possible, turtle eggs. He was born in Santa Cruz del Sur, in Camaguey. Next to the sea.

After 35 years, our kitchen is still always full of guava paste, guava jelly, cuban style crackers or "galletas cubanas", ham & cheese spread or "pasta de bocadito", sometimes imported from one of our trips to Miami. Cubans, and specially my Father, say that guava or "guayaba" was invented in Cuba. So was coffee, rum, sugar, tobbacco, etc. etc. etc. According to him, Cubans invented everything and Cuba was the greatest country in the World. Of course, the largest mangoes in the World could also be found only in Camaguey. I always laugh when he says this.

I have to admit though, that Cubans do know how to roast pork . And this is no joke. When Americans (and the rest of the World) are having Ham or Turkey for Christmas and New Year's , Cubans dig a pit in their backyard and bury a whole pig, cover it with banana tree leaves, one or two metal sheets, and then build a wood fire over it. The pig will slowly cook during 9 to 10 hours and be ready just in time for New Year's Eve Dinner.

Many years ago, when we were all younger and lived in a house with a backyard, Manuel would prepare this Cuban specialty, Lechón Asado a la Cubana. He would marinate the pork one or two days before, and start digging the hole and cooking the pork at 6 in the morning on New Year's Eve. Of course, this was a kind of ritual. He would make a party out of it. His friends would come over early and help him take care of the fire. They would hang out all day in the backyard listening to Cuban music and sipping Daiquiris and mojitos cubanos. Eventually, he would check the animal once in a while, because after 8 or 9 hours the skin would start getting very crispy and with a knife he would cut out pieces and eat it with his friends and anyone around. Chicharrón, or crispy pork cracklings, is one of the best things in the world, of course, very fattening, but delicious. The pork would always show up at the dinner table with half of it's skin missing. I dedicate this page to the funniest and greatest guy in the World. I can say that I am very proud of being half Cuban; that is where I got my sense of humor, my love for food and the good things in life.


My father (with the hat) and his friend Toño cooking the Rice and Yuca over the BBQ

Lechón Asado a la Cubana
(Roast Pork, Cuban Style)


1 whole pig, 20 lbs., emptied and clean
Sour oranges (naranjas agrias)
garlic
oregano
salt & pepper
(A backyard, banana leaves, metal sheets, large roasting pan, wood)
The day before, you have to marinate the pig. If you have extra space in your refrigerator, it is best to do it 2 days before. The pig should be clean, and opened in half through the belly. Place the pig in a large roasting pan. Rub the insides with a lot of chopped garlic, oregano, and salt to taste. Squeeze enough sour oranges and "bathe" the pig with the juice. Cover with foil paper and keep in the refrigerator.
The morning you want to roast the pig, dig a hole in the ground large enough to fit the pork. Cover the ground well with banana leaves (to avoid getting the pig dirty) and place the pig inside. Cover with more banana leaves, one or two metal sheets (hojas de zinc) large enough to cover the hole completely. Build your fire on top of the metal sheets with wood. Depending on the size of the pig and the heat, it should take around 9 to 10 hours to cook. Test for doneness by pricking the thigh with the point of a knife, if the liquid runs clear, the meat is done.

Cuban Style Roast Pork is traditionally served with Arroz Congri (Red Beans with Rice) and Yuca con Mojo (Boiled Yucca with Garlic Sauce).


Arroz Congrí
(Red Beans with Rice)
12 ounces red beans
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 lb. salt pork
2 quarts water
1/2 lb. lean pork or ham
1/4 cup Spanish olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium onions, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 cups long-grain rice
Soak the beans in a large pot with water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat and let cook for 1 hour and a half to forty five minutes or until tender, adding water if necessary.

Cut the salt pork into medium chunks and cook in a large casserole. Remove from casserole and drain in paper towel. Cook the ham chunks in the rendered fat for 5 minutes. Remove the ham and wipe out the casserole with more paper towel.

Add the oil and cook the onion, garlic, and bell pepper over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Return the salt pork and ham to the casserole.

Add the beans and 5 cups of the cooking liquid (add water if necessary) to the onions and bell pepper. Raise the heat to high, add the oregano, cumin, sugar, salt, pepper, and rice, and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the rice with a fork, reduce the heat to low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more until done.

Yuca con Mojo
(Boiled Yucca with Garlic Sauce)
6 medium-size yuccas, peeled and cut 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
1 cup sour orange juice
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup Spanish Olive Oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, optional
In a large pot over medium heat, simmer the yucca, covered in salted water, until very tender, 25 to 30 minutes, and drain.
Meanwhile, prepare the Garlic Sauce, or Mojo Criollo: Mash the garlic and salt into a paste. Stir in the orange juice. In a saucepan, heat the oil just to a boiling point and remove it from the heat. Whisk in the orange juice mixture until well blended.

Transfer the yucca to a serving bowl or platter, and toss with the garlic sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Etiquetas: , ,

9 Comments:

Blogger Melissa CookingDiva said...

Viste que si HAY!!!---buenisimo, siempre me encanto ese post!

5:27 p. m., diciembre 15, 2005  
Blogger milsabores said...

Elenaaaaa!!! Qué sorpresa! No sabía de tus raices cubanas.

Coincidencialmente, nos invitaron a cenar el 24 casa de unos primos donde prometen que el banquete será espectacular. Me hablaron de la preparación de un cerdo "a la cubana".He comido cerdo asi enterrado y tapado con hojas de platano, una divinidad. Pero este que prepararán para la navidad me dicen que lo meteran en una "caja china" fabricada por cubanos en Miami y especialmente traida para la ocasión...

Sin duda, te recordaré ese día y te contaré después.

Disfruta la Navidad!!!!

7:48 p. m., diciembre 15, 2005  
Blogger Elena Hernandez said...

Gracias Melissa y ML por los comentarios, ando desempolvando cosas viejas a ver si me pongo al dia!! JE JE JE
Abrazos, Elena

9:59 p. m., diciembre 15, 2005  
Blogger neil said...

Lovely personal piece. Your dad sounds so great.

3:21 p. m., diciembre 18, 2005  
Blogger schatzli said...

found you from cooking diva.. just interested with your side of cooking bec I am from the Philippines and we have few similarities

Feliz Navidad

6:24 a. m., diciembre 22, 2005  
Blogger Elena Hernandez said...

Hello Tankeduptaco: loved your story too thanks for visiting and come back soon?

Schatzli: yes indeed, we both have the Spanish influence in our cuisines. Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Holidays from Panama!

6:35 p. m., diciembre 22, 2005  
Blogger zaida elisa said...

Gracias, al fin encuentro la receta para hacer el cerdo de la manera que tu lo haces. Te dejo saber como me quedo. Tengo dudas si pongo el cerdo en la tierra con la bandeja o no, y si le quito la piel y grasa al cerdo. Me dejas saber.

10:19 a. m., diciembre 23, 2005  
Blogger Elena Hernandez said...

Hola Zaida, debes de dejarle toda la grasa y la piel al puerco, y si colocalo en la bandeja tambien, aunque el hoyo tradicionalmente se cubre con hojas de platano para proteger el animal.
Feliz Navidad!
Elena

8:57 p. m., diciembre 23, 2005  
Anonymous Caler said...

Lovely words... So glad I stumbled across your site.

9:49 a. m., agosto 17, 2006  

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