Cuban Roasted Whole Pork, Cuban Lechon Asado
There is nothing like the aroma of a whole roasted Cuban pork. Marinated in sour orange juice and fresh garlic and roasted in the Caja China. It is a homemade roasting box made of wood and lined inside with a metal tin. It is very popular with the Cuban families. in fact almost all Cuban families own this roasting box to roast their pig. This special box is used to roast a 65lb to 80lb pig sometimes larger. Here is the recipe to make this delicious roast pig.
sour oranges, juiced and strained of all pulp about 2 quarts of juice. if sour orange not avilable use limes and add add 8 ounces orange juice to a quart and a half of lime juice.
fresh garlic cloves peeled
65/70 pound fresh slaughtered dressed pig
4 to 5
salt (to salt pork first)
ground black pepper
The day before marinating the pig, squeeze the sour oranges, strain of all pulp and seeds. Peel the garlic bulbs removing the cloves into a large bowl. In your blender pour about 2 cups of the juice add a large handful of garlic cloves add half the oregano, half the cumin, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and half the black pepper. Blend on high as if you were making a shake. Blend for about half a minute until all the garlic is liquified with the sour orange juice. Take the remaing juice, garlic cloves and spices and blend again until all is throughly blended. put into a large glass bottle or plastic bottle. Do not store in any metal container. Store overnight for flavors to meld.
Next day your pig should be fresh or defrosted Open pig with a meat clever hitting along the spine so as to open the pork completely. Pork should lay flat open. With a sharp knife make deep slits between the ribs and along the inside of the pork shoulders and pork fresh ham thighs. Next take your 4/5 tablespoons of salt and throughly salt your pork completely. Do not be afraid to salt the pork. A whole pork sucks up a lot of salt. Rub the salt all inside the pork on the fresh ham legs and pork shoulders. With your fingers push the salt deep into the slits you made before. Use all of the salt. Rub over the slits in the ribs sticking your fingers deep into the slits so the pork will be salted inside. Next pour the citrus marinade all inside the pig into the slits of the ribs and with your fingers pushing the marinade into the deep slits in the pork meat. Use about 12 ounces and only pour inside the pig. Do not marinate the pig on the outside. The skin is to tough so the marinade will not penetrate the thick skin. Leave your pig lying on its back face up so the marinade will penetrate the meat. We leave the pork with the marinade for about 12 hours.
The next day the pig can be roasted in the Caja China the Cuban roasting box or some people dig a long deep hole in the ground and line the bottom with a large layer of charcoals about 8 or 9 pounds half of a very large bag they mound them up and light the pile with lighter fuel and leave the coals catch and light real good when the coals start to turn white they spread them in a large lawyer in the bottom of the hole spread the length of the hole. Two large cinder blocks are used one on each side. the pig is laying in a very large metal rack or tray that is special made to hold the a whole pig up to 65 to 75 pound pig. Another large metal tray is layed over the pig and then large banana leaves are spred over the top to ensure no heat escapes. Roasting the pig in a pit takes a lot longer because after an hour or two you have to remove the tray add more coal and ensure it is lit to continue roasting the pig. A much easier way is to order a Caja China on the internet. You can type in Caja China Roasting Box or Cuban Caja China. This translates to The Chinese Roasting Box which is the name the Cubans have given it. The invention however is totaly Cuban. If you order your Caja China you will have a much easier time of roasting your pig. the heat sourse comes from the top and circulates all around your pig in the box. Your pig will not burn it will cook a lot faster and a 65 to 75 pounder as we did this Christmas cooked in six hours. The first three hours we did not uncover the pig. We lit and added a total of 8 to 9 pounds of charcoal on the top of the lid at two hour intervals. The pig came out after three hours and was turned over and roasted in the box back side up so as to crisp and brown the skin. The pig came out succulent, juicy and the meat moist. The skin came out crispy and crackly. Totaly delicious. Once your pig is roasted you can take it out and cut the pork in small pieces sprinkle the remaing marinade over the meat basting the meat and serving with the traditional black beans and rice, yucca or casava and fried sweet plantains. A traditional avacado salad and Cuban tamales is also served with the roasted pork. Whole roasted pig is traditionaly made for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve dinner. However is is not uncommon for Cuban families to roast pigs for special family get togethers any time of the year. Enjoy.