This classic Cuban seasoning sauce is a wonderful marinade for meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Not only is Ana Menéndez an award-winning journalist and author, she is also a wonderful cook. In a fun and informative article Ana wrote about Cuban-American observances of Thanksgiving, she recalls that when she was a small child, “Roast pork was the centerpiece of the annual Thanksgiving meal celebrated by a Cuban immigrant family, bound together by common memories and hopes. As the years passed, the gatherings became smaller, culinary tastes changed, and turkey nudged the pig off the table.” Whether preparing a whole fifty-pound pig or a small turkey, marinating the meat in mojo before roasting is essential. Every family has its own way of preparing mojo criollo. Ana has been kind enough to share her recipe with us. This amount of sauce is enough to marinate a whole turkey. If marinating a pig, double or triple the recipe.
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon whole cumin seeds, or to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
- 1 rosemary sprig or bay leaf
- 1 whole head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 cups fresh bitter orange juice, or 1 cup regular orange juice and 1 cup fresh lime juice
Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Pound the seeds with a mortar and pestle and stir them into the oil, along with the oregano and rosemary. In the same mortar, crush the garlic and salt to make a smooth paste. To make that operation easier, you may want to crush the garlic in a garlic press first. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the oil mixture until fragrant. Do not let it sizzle. Let the oil cool, then remove and discard the rosemary. Place the oil, garlic mixture, and bitter orange juice in a blender and blend well.
Nutritional information is based on 9 servings.