Fresh Pork Roast Adobo

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Pork is the most reviled, and yet the most praised, food there is. If you like it, this subtly spiced dish will hit the spot.

 Adobo is a spice mixture found in the Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean. It can be just about any combination of herbs and spices, and is used to marinate or season just about anything. To feed a crowd, nothing beats a huge fresh ham (unsmoked leg of pork) rubbed with adobo and roasted.

Serves10 to 12

Cooking Methodroasting



Total Timea day or more

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturecrisp, garlicky, meaty, rich, savory, spiced


  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (11-pound) bone-in fresh leg of pork (“fresh ham”)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds pork neck bones
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small celery rib with leaves, chopped
  • 1½ quarts water
  • 1 parsley sprig
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Make the adobo: On a work surface, sprinkle the garlic with the salt. Using a large knife, chop and smear them together until the mixture forms a paste. Scrape up the garlic-salt paste and place it in a small bowl. Add the ¼ cup olive oil, lime juice, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and pepper, and whisk until smooth.

Using a sharp knife, score the ham skin in a diamond pattern, being sure not to cut into the meat itself. Rub the ham all over with the adobo. Place the ham in a large plastic bag (such as a plastic grocery bag or an unscented garbage bag), close tightly, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, make the pork stock: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the pork bones and cook over medium-high heat, turning often, until browned, about 6 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Add the parsley, thyme, and peppercorns, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Strain the pork broth, discarding the solids. Add water if necessary to make 5 cups total liquid. (The pork stock can be made up to 3 days ahead; allow it to cool, then cover and refrigerate.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 400°.

Scrape off any excess adobo from the ham. Place the ham on a rack in a large flameproof roasting pan, and drizzle with the 2 tablespoons oil.

Bake the ham, basting it often with 1 cup of the pork broth and the drippings on the bottom of the pan. Allowing about 22 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the ham (not touching a bone) reads 155°, this will take about 4 hours and 20 minutes. Transfer the ham to a serving platter, and let it stand, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for at least 20 minutes before carving.

While the ham is resting, place the roasting pan over two burners on high heat. When the drippings are sizzling, pour in the remaining 4 cups pork stock and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Boil until the stock is syrupy and reduced to about 1½ cups, about 10 minutes. Pour the sauce into a warmed sauceboat.

Carve the ham, and serve it with the sauce.



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