Today’s post takes the form of a culinary Caribbean adventure brought to you by fellow blogger, Talek Nantes of Travels With Talek. Talek was born and raised in New York City, but her parents were Cuban and she learnt how to make the traditional Cuban roast pork dish, ‘lechon asado’ from her mother. Although this recipe uses roast pork leg, feel free to experiment with different cuts – I imagine pork shoulder would work pretty well too.
Before giving this recipe a go, be sure to stock up on naranja agria, also known as bitter orange juice. An authentic lechon asado uses the sour juice of Seville oranges, which are plentiful in Cuba. Although these oranges aren’t available worldwide, their juices are bottled as naranja agria, which is more readily available in Hispanic grocery stores. The sharp, zesty flavour is an essential component of the so-called mojo sauce that gives this dish its edge, so don’t even think about leaving it out!
This is the fourth post in my ‘Eat Like a Local’ guest post series. For more information about this feature, take a look at the previous posts in this series. If you’re a blogger interested in featuring, please get in touch! Read on to discover more about Talek, and her ‘lechon asado’ Cuban roast pork leg recipe.
Talek Nantes: Cuba
- Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born and raised in New York City of Cuban parents. I live between New York City and Miami now but I’ve lived in several countries including Mexico, England, Spain, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. My professional career has been in International Business. I recently shifted professional gears to dedicate myself full-time to my blog.
My life’s passion has always been travelling. Ever since I can remember I’ve either been planning a trip, on a trip or thinking about it. It stands to reason that I would start a travel blog to continue feeding my travel obsession.
My blog targets active, curious adventurers who love culture, food and a little bit of comfort when they travel. The focus is on experiential travel, cultural immersion and interaction with locals.
- When did you begin blogging, and why did you decide to start a blog?
I began blogging about two years ago. I felt this was the perfect venue for me to explore and utilise my two passions; travel and writing. I also wanted to inspire people to travel and create their own unique travel adventures.
- What’s the best experience you’ve had as a blogger?
I would have to say my most rewarding experience as a blogger is seeing my traffic grow. I also enjoy the interaction with other bloggers on the various social media groups. One especially rewarding experience was when one of my posts was accepted to be published on Matador Network.
- What advice would you give to new bloggers who are just starting out?
I’m still relatively new to blogging, so I’m not sure I’m in the best position to be dispensing advice, but I’d like to share what has worked for me thus far. Pinterest has been the single best traffic generator for me, so invest time in that platform. SEO is also key. It is worth investing in a good keyword search tool and perhaps a course if you are not too familiar. Join blogging-related Facebook groups, participate and learn. Another piece of advice is not to expect results overnight. As they say, blogging is a marathon not a sprint. Finally, if you are thinking of monetising your blog, start thinking about creating products that can be of value to your readers.
'Lechon Asado' Cuban-style roast pork leg
If Cuba had a national dish, roast pork would be it. It is what is on the table during a celebration like a big family get-together, or a wedding. The big Cuban feast is on 'Noche Buena' (good night), which is Christmas Eve. On Noche Buena, the table will always be set with a roast pig, rice and black beans, fried plantains and yuca - a starchy tuber. The lechon asado has to be marinated with a very specific concoction of spices called “mojo.” A good lechon asado will take hours to prepare, but it will be worth it.
- 2.7 kg pork leg
- 1 bulb/head garlic
- ¾ cup naranja agria (bitter orange juice) from Hispanic grocery stores
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp salt
- 500 g white onion sliced into rounds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp soy sauce optional
Perforate the leg with a long-prong fork in several places.
Crush the garlic and combine the salt, oregano, cumin, pepper, soy sauce, bay leaves and juice of bitter orange.
Smear the leg with this marinade.
Cover the leg with the onion slices and let it stand for at least two hours.
Place the leg in a preheated oven at 160°C/325°F/ Gas Mark 3 for around four hours.
Serve with white rice and black beans.
Naranja Agria (juice of bitter orange) can be found in Hispanic grocery stores, or you can also pick up a bottle from Amazon, currently priced at just £4.49 for 590ml*.
*price subject to change
Have you ever tasted Cuban cuisine? What’s your favourite roast pork leg recipe? Leave me a comment below. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!