It’s been a few years since I have celebrated a good old fashioned Cuban Christmas like I used to have in Miami. Noche Buena is quite possibly the biggest night of the year for us, except maybe for Three Kings Day, marked by a great feast on December 24th and capped off with midnight mass for those who can stay up that late…sober. Lots of preparation goes into the Noche Buena meal and typically starts a few of days in advance. The traditional Noche Buena menu consists of:
- Roast Pork
- White Rice
- Black Beans
- Yuca con mojo
- Moros y cristianos
- A few different salads
- Fried sweet plantains
I have many great memories of going to my friends houses to observe the preparation for the feast. This process involved a whole pig, a kiddie pool, some cinder block, a few bags of coal, and a lot of digging. Ingenuity and necessity brought about the advent of the caja china (chinese box) to facilitate the process. The nostalgic side of me still appreciates using the earth as mother nature’s cooking pit, then again I never had to actually dig the hole.
Our family was a much smaller gathering, therefore we settled for a succulent pork shoulder, slow roasted in the oven. My great-aunt Ada was responsible for the pork and hers was restaurant quality delicious and tender. The skin was always a beautiful golden red-brown, shimmering, crispy and delicious. With a smaller roast, there isn’t as much preparation needed. However it is imperative that roast marinates overnight in the fridge for maximum flavor.
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- 6-8 lb pork shoulder roast
- 1 small yellow onion
- 20 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 and 1/2 cups sour orange juice. If you can't get sour orange juice in your area, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime.
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 and 1/2 cups olive oil
- 1 small bottle of Goya or La Lechonera mojo marinade(but fresh is best!)
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients above and blend well.
- Pierce the pork as many times as you can with a sharp knife or fork.
- Pour garlic mixture (save a little for roasting) over pork, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place pork, fat side up, in an open roasting pan. Cover with a sliced yellow onion.
- Use a turkey baster to squeeze leftover marinade over pork and baste at least once per hour with the juices in the roasting pan.
- Cook for an hour per pound. Remove pork from oven when a meat thermometer reads 155degrees.
- Immediately cover with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Serve with yuca, white rice and black beans.