photo credit: Not me. Meutia Chaerani / Indradi Soemardjan from Wikipedia.
Tom and I had a dinner party for some friends and family on Saturday night and I did not take a single picture. I’m not really sure how that happened, except for the fact that I was completely exhausted by the time my guests arrived. In fact, my mom brought us cortaditos (Cuban coffee with a bit of evaporated milk) at my request because I didn’t think I’d make it through the festivities otherwise.
The day began before sunrise when Tom’s alarm went off and he got up to film some videos on a Carnival ship. Then there was a flurry of last-minute shopping, de-boning, marinating, cleaning and cooking and suddenly it was 7:30 and my guests had arrived. The menu looked something like this:
Hors d’oeuvres: Crispy Hominy (one day I’ll get around to posting this recipe), Pita Chips and Black Bean dip, little toasts with chorizo/cherry tomato bake and Manchego cheese
Main course: Roasted pork shoulder stuffed with guava shells, bacon and prunes, and roasted with a brown sugar/malt soda glaze. Side dish was pine nut and green onion pilaf.
Dessert: Berries with cardamom whipped cream, fancy vanilla sugar crystals and Ghiradelli toffee and dark chocolate squares
I’m embarrassed to say that the inspiration for main dish came from the Food Network show Throwdown with Bobby Flay. The premise of this egotastic show is that Bobby Flay tours the country challenging masters of regional cuisine to a Throwdown. Local judges score the dishes and pronounce a winner, usually the local hero. Anyway, I saw one a few weeks ago that took place in Miami where the local hero was the owner of the Caja China oven company. Cubans love their pork and most of us can be found near a large roasting oven like the Caja China on Christmas Eve. (Not my family. My grandfather had an aluminum oven made to his precise specifications. And you wonder where I get my foodieness from…)
Anyway. Cubans love their pork. I took my inspiration from the show and it made some pretty delicious pork. I was afraid the guava, prunes, brown sugar and malt soda might be sweetness overkill, but the marinade provided enough tartness and the bacon enough smokiness. The roast came out perfectly caramelized and tender.
Guava-Stuffed Pork Shoulder
1 9-10 lb. pork shoulder (de-boned and thick layer of fat removed)
Juice of 5 sour oranges (If you can’t find sour oranges, use the juice of 3 oranges and 3 limes)
10 cloves garlic, smashed
10 oz. dried prunes
10 oz. guava shells (I used the canned because I could find fresh guavas)
1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 package center-cut bacon
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 bottle of malt soda (I used Iberia brand, but Goya would work equally well.)
Special equipment: butcher’s twine
Make sure you have a big pan (I used a roasting pan) handy then begin butterflying the pork shoulder so that it’s lays flat an inch thick. It’s ok if you end up with multiple pieces instead of one large one. Place the pork in the pan and cover with sour orange juice and garlic. Let marinate for at least 12 hours.
About 2 1/2 hours before you want to eat, preheat the oven to 325°. Spread the pork out in the pan as best you can and layer the guava shells evenly over the meat, then layer the bacon and then the prunes. Roll the meat tightly and wrap it with twine. Spread the brown sugar over the top of the meat then pour half the bottle of malt soda over it. Sprinkle the salt over the meat.
Cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven, flip the meat and pour the remaining malt soda over it. Return to oven and bake for another hour uncovered. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with juices from the bottom of the pan spooned over the top.