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Fried Pork Chunks

Cookbook

The Cuban Table

Published by St. Martins Press

This image courtesy of Ellen Silverman

This recipe is inspired by the Paladar de las Masas where we stopped on our way to Pinar del Rio. The pork chunks are lightly salted then set in a heavy pot with a small amount of lard and just enough water to cover. Kept at a gentle simmer the sounds of bubbling broth give way to a hard snap, indicating that the water has evaporated and the pork has rendered its lard. From there they begin to fry, browning and crisping on the outside, while staying pink and tender inside.

Serves6

Cooking Methodbraising, frying

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

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

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturegarlicky, meaty, rich, savory

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 4-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup best-quality lard, at room temperature
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lour orange juice or equal parts lime and orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced into rounds

Instructions

  1. Place the pork chunks in a heavy 6-quart pot. Salt the pork chunks and toss to coat well. Cover the pork with water and lard and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook partially covered until the water has reduced and the pork has rendered its lard, 1 ½, to 2 hours.

  2. At this point the water will have mostly evaporated and the pork will begin to simmer in its own fat. Raise the heat to medium and continue to cook, uncovered, checking often and turning the pork regularly until the chunks are golden brown and crispy on the outside, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the fried pork chunks with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving platter. Drain the rendered lard (about ½, cup) and set aside.

  3. In the meantime prepare the mojo. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic, salt, and black pepper to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the sour orange juice and oregano until well combined. Place the onion in a deep 12-inch skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the mojo dressing over the onion and toss to coat. Cover the skillet.

  4. Heat a ½ cup of the rendered lard in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the cover of the skillet away from your body and only enough to safely pour inside the lard in one motion then immediately cover the skillet. This should be done carefully because the liquid will bubble and spurt when it makes contact with the lard. Leave covered until the popping sound subsides, 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Spoon the onion over the pork chunks and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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