April 9, 2010

Fresh Ham, Cuban Style and then Carnitas Tacos!

As a nice follow up to Passover rolls, I present to you one of the best pieces of pig I have ever had the pleasure to place on my palate!

It's really very simple. The day before you want to eat it (pork leg or butt), take out a small bowl. Make a paste out of 10 minced garlic cloves, 1 T salt, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf powder and 2 T olive oil. Add some extra olive oil if the paste isn't pasty enough. Cut deep slits in the fresh ham and rub the paste all over it, forcing it into the slits. In another bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups sour orange juice, 1/2 cup sherry and 2 large onions, thinly sliced. Place the roast in a large plastic bag and pour the wet mixture in, massaging as you go. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or even over two nights. Turn a couple of times a day.

On the day of cooking, remove from plastic bag and put in large roasting vessel. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put in oven, uncovered. Flip after 2 hours. A 10 pound fresh ham takes 3 1/2 to 4 hours to cook.

The photo above is before we put it in the oven and the photo below is after 2 hours, when it was time to flip it.

As you let it cook, your kitchen and surrounding areas will fill up with the most incredible smell. If I could only bottle it...

Finally it's done! Our Cuban pork cooking guru, Mr. Jimenez, told us that it would be done when about 2" of that big bone was sticking out. He was right--see photo below. Remove from oven and let it sit for 20 minutes. It is easiest to slice into chunks, around the large chunks of fat. It almost cuts itself.

The pork is incredibly tender, and the herbs give the perfect amount of contrast to the porky flavors. We served this with a corn casserole and green beans. It was wonderful. Another great thing about this pork is that you can use the leftovers to make carnitas tacos, which we did. Just buy a package of corn tortillas, an onion and some avocado- it's really all you need. The tacos were addictive. We just heated a skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil and threw the leftover pork, sliced up. Let it cook for about three minutes, so that it is warmed through and slightly charred on the outside. You'll be glad you did...and the eggs.

1 comment:

JB said...

This is way too crazy because I am just about to write a blog post about Steven making Carnitas a couple nights ago!