It has been almost a year since I have posted to this blog. I had intentions of posting all year, and I continued to cook and take photos (not as many as usual, but I still was therapy cooking and baking during the year). Sitting down and writing blog posts was the hard part. I took on new responsibilities at work, and was so busy that the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was pick up my computer.
Things have changed a bit (my colleague came back from maternity leave recently, so things have eased up). The biggest change has been in my family. When I first started blogging, my daughter was 13 and my son was 7. My daughter was an adventurous eater, and as I said in my profile, my son only liked steak and macaroni and cheese. Now my daughter is away at college and is becoming a better cook than I am, and my son is in high school and has expanded what he eats to a more adventurous diet.
The change in my son happened so slowly that I barely noticed. I finally noticed in grand fashion on Thursday night. Lynn invited us out to dinner, and we chose to go to our favorite Greek restaurant in town. We ordered our favorite meze dips, but Les and my son thought the Keftedakia (Greek meatballs) looked good, so they decided to try them.
When it came time to order dinner, I was sure my son would order his normal steak with a feta cheese and chili pepper topping. I was happy Lynn and Les supported his choice, because I’m sure I was sitting there with my mouth open. What did he order? He ordered the lamb shank. Lamb shank?!?! To say I was shocked was an understatement. Lamb shank isn’t something that I would ever order, so how had this happened?
I should have noticed the change in my son, but somehow I missed the signs. Looking back, it was clear my son had turned a corner on our summer vacation. I had a business trip in Florida we leveraged into a family vacation to Orlando, before we headed to Naples.
Once we were in Naples, my family and I went different ways. I went to my conference, and my husband would stop at the concierge desk at the Ritz Carlton, and ask, “What should we do today?” The helpful people at the concierge desk would send my family on fun boat tours to see manatees and the Everglades. They also gave them dining ideas, and a coupon to try alligator nuggets. My son tried the nuggets and ordered the sautéed alligator as an entrée (Why was I was surprised about the lamb shank?). They also went out to try Cuban food. I was eating well at my conference, but I wanted to try Cuban food too.
We looked up the best Cuban restaurant in Naples, and we headed to Fernandez the Bull on our way to the airport. I finally got my Cuban food, and not a moment too soon. I asked the waitress her recommendation for the quintessential dish her restaurant serves, and she had me order the pork roast. It was delicious. I thought about that roast all the way home, and I knew I wanted to try to make it at home.
I have a recipe that a Cuban friend gave me for a pork roast, but it didn’t seem to have the flavor profile that I was looking for. I saw this Bobby Flay recipe, and it seemed to be exactly what I wanted. And, the Food & Wine Arroz Blanco tastes exactly like the rice at Fernandez the Bull.
My daughter was back at college when I made this, but Les and my son loved the pork roast. It was flavored all the way to the bone with garlic and oregano, and the citrus glaze adds a brightness that works great with the rich pork.
I asked my son what his favorite part of our vacation was, and he said it was the food. Our vacation rule, “We can’t eat anywhere we can eat at home” has paid off. My son is now an adventurous eater. I need to change my profile.
Cuban Pork Roast
Adapted from Bobby Flay at foodnetwork.com
4 ½ cups fresh orange juice, divided
1 ¼ cups fresh lime juice, divided
1 orange, zested
1 lime, zested
½ cup finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
12 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ cup olive oil
1 bone-in port shoulder (4-6 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine 3 ½ cups orange juice and ¾ cup of line juice and zest in a large saucepan over high heat and reduce to 2 cups. Remove from heat. Add another ½ cup of orange juice and ¼ cup of lime juice, and add a few cloves of garlic. Let cool to room temperature (refrigerate overnight if you refrigerate the pork roast overnight).
Make small slits with a paring knife over the entire surface of the pork roast. Salt and pepper the roast, and then rub the garlic and ¼ cup of the oregano all over the pork roast tucking the garlic and oregano in the slits. Put the roast on a large roasting pan, and pour ¼ cup of olive oil over the top of the roast. Turn the roast to coat it in the olive oil. Cover the roast with cling wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to roasting. Cook the roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° F and continuing roasting, basting with the citrus marinade during the last 30 minutes of roasting until the roast is golden brown, and the pork is easily shredded (about 45 minutes per pound). Remove from and baste with any remaining glaze, tent loosely and let rest for 15 minutes before shredding.
Serve with Arroz Blanco (White Rice), Black Beans and Mojo Dipping Sauce. Make Cuban Sandwiches out of any leftovers.
Mojo Dipping Sauce
8 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup orange juice (separated from above)
¼ cup lime juice (separated from above)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic, Serrano, cilantro and a few pinches of salt until it becomes a paste. Add the orange juice, lime juice and olive oil and stir to combine. Serve with the shredded pork roast.