I tend to think of pork as an autumnal animal, especially if it’s roasted. I think of pork and apples and fall pig killings, although my main source for these impressions is a close reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books as a child.
Remember how Laura and Mary tossed around the old pig bladder?
Basically, my favorite children’s books focused on food. Or at least that’s the part I remember. After I read The Secret Garden, I couldn’t wait for my first taste of clotted Devon cream.
But forget roast pork and cabbage or roast pork and applesauce and consider island pork—not just Hawaiian, but Cuban and Puerto Rican, like, for example, the Cubanesque sandwich I had for lunch a while back at Caffe Niche. Roast pork, sliced thin and piled on a bun with caramelized onions and cole slaw made a great warm-weather meal.
And my sister-the-chef sent me this recipe today, for a pork roast that will be as good cold as when it’s fresh out of the oven.
Puerto Rican Roast Pork
12 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup fresh thyme
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 cups sour orange juice OR 1 ⅓ cups orange juice and ⅔ cup lime juice
4-5 lbs. pork sirloin tip or boneless pork shoulder
Mix all ingredients except the meat in a food processor. Mix until almost smooth.
Put the marinade and meat into a large Zip Lock bag and marinate for 6-10 hours in the refrigerator.
One hour before cooking, remove the meat from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 450⁰.
Wipe most of the marinade off the pork (leaving some of the puree on is OK) and place in a heavy roasting pan. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly brown.
Lower the heat to 250⁰, add a little water to the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Cook for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender throughout.
Remove the meat from the pan, keep it warm on the side and reduce the pan juices slightly. Strain and taste. If the sauce is not too salty, serve with the meat. If it is a little too salty, wash and slice a potato. Add a few slices of the raw potato to the pan and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Discard the potato slices. They should have absorbed quite a bit of the salt, so taste the sauce again before serving and adjust the seasoning.
Slice the meat across the grain and serve with black beans and rice.
And serve it the next day as a sandwich. My current fave sandwich bread is the ciabbata rolls from Harmons–crusty enough to be flavorful, soft enough to bite through.
-Mary Brown Malouf