In Pork We Trust
Trust sure don’t come easy in life, but a little bit of trust goes a long way in the kitchen. I’m talking to you, baking, and your insistence that I trust that all will come out right if I follow the recipe to the tee. Fuck me. Apparently I wasn’t cut out for the culinary arts that required a heavy dose of faith and very little help in the way of course correction. Once that cake goes in the oven, you are done and there is no going back.
Rarely do I come across recipes outside the realm of baking that require me to give in to the zen and wholeheartedly trust over my skepticism. The first time that I made masitas de puerco was one of those times – just let the pork cubes simmer away in their marinade and give them the time to do their thing and it is promised (nay, decreed!) that they will emerge from the pot crispy on the outside yet fork tender. Bullshit. Nothing could be that hands-off with such a stunning result. And yet, I ignored the doubts and trusted that the pork would do my bidding if I left it alone to braise and brown. My trust that I was so reticent to hand over paid off in spades (Off topic: Doesn’t that expression sound racist? Like Mad Men-esque?) and I was rewarded with some of the best fucking pork that I had ever, and I mean ever, tasted. I’m not sure if I’ve learned my lesson in terms of getting over my culinary trust issues. But I do know how to make ridiculously good pork. Isn’t that enough?
Masitas de Puerco (Cuban Pork Marinated in Cumin and Garlic)
2 lbs. of pork, cubed and trimmed of fat (shoulder or boston butt is great!)
12 cloves of garlic, minced
2 oranges, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 c. of olive oil
3 tsp. of cumin
1 tsp. of oregano
1 tsp. of salt
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 c. of water
Place the pork cubes, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and oregano in a tupperware and mix well to combine. Pop on the lid and marinate overnight.
The next day, get ready for some simple majesty in terms of cooking – grab a dutch oven and dump all of the pork, marinade and all, into the pot. Add the two cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly (to medium high) and let the pork simmer away in the sauce for about 30 minutes, letting just about all of the liquid evaporate. When the liquid is almost gone, toss the onions on top of the pork. Continue to cook until the liquid is completely reduced and the pork browns in the olive oil that remains. Stir to loosen the pork and let it brown on the other side. Serve hot.