This is easily one of my favorite weeknight dinners. This was the recipe that my Cuban friend’s mom used to make her pork roast. Her mother, my friend’s grandmother, was born and grew up in Cuba. She fled to Florida soon after she was married, and brought with her a wealth of delicious recipes. I regularly begged cook for us.
This recipe was her adaptation of the original, to better fit the ingredients that were readily available in the United States.
There is room for a lot of variation here, but there are two things that should NOT be messed with;
- Oven temperature
- Dish/method you cook it.
The ingredients are simple and leave plenty of room for you to “tweak’ and add your culinary geniuses to the dish, even though I think it is perfect as is :).
For the first few years I made this dish, it would come out of the oven tasting delicious, but was always a little dry. There was plenty of liquid in the dish, but the meat was still lacking in texture. I’m not sure if you have experienced this or not, but I have tasted dry meat in a soup… and that is the kind of dry I am referring to. It might be swimming in liquid but it doesn’t have that moist texture that I am looking for.
Well, I spent the last few years tweaking different aspects of this dish and my family got to eat all of those tweaks… Here is what I have come up with to get a perfectly cooked, moist, fall apart pork roast with very little effort (on your part any way…) We will get to the ingredients in a few minutes but this is the important part to grasp.
Cook for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 250-275 degrees for approximately 3 hours. I say approximately because the beauty of this recipe is that you can leave it in the oven for 4 hours and as long as you keep the oven temperature low, it won’t get dried out.
Cook in a baking dish and cover it VERY tightly with foil. Not just a lid that fits, but foil.
I have a glass cover for my baking dish and I discovered that it doesn’t turn out as well because more of the moisture escapes during the baking. I use either the oval baking dish that is pictured or a standard glass 9×13 baking dish. My mother uses a metal roast pan and it turns out great, just make sure that it is covered tightly with foil and that you don’t open it during the cooking process.
I found that the glass dish was really helpful when I was learning how to cook this properly, because I could open the oven and take a peak. When I used an opaque dish, I would get worried and take the foil off and let that precious moisture escape. It would then be hard to get the foil back on as tightly, mostly because it was searing hot, and I was using hot pads….
Slow Cooker Note – I have a feeling that this question is going to come up, so I am going to go ahead and address it. I have tried to make this in my crockpot, but stopped several months ago because it is too difficult to regulate the temperature and it was coming out dry. Having said that, I have a rather cheap low end slow cooker, and it only has a low and high temperature options, with cook time. If you have a nicer slow cooker that give you more control, you might have better results. But really, this is a simple dish that is easy to throw in the oven and a cooking method that is pretty simple, why mess with that? I love my slow cooker and use it 2-3 nights a week, I just stopped using this recipe in it because it turns out SOOO much better in the oven.
With all that technical stuff out of the way, here is what you will need to make this Cuban Style Pork Roast. I use the tenderloin or pork loin because I can easily find it in Puerto Rico, but if you use the Boston Butt or Picnic cut, it will come out even better! Those cuts of pork have much more fat marbled throughout and it falls apart when you look at it. If your cut of meat is significantly thicker then the pork in the picture, add an extra 30-45 minutes of cooking time at the lower temperature to make sure it is throughly cooked.
pork, 2-3 lbs
1 large onion
1 package of onion soup mix
olive oil to drizzle (1-2 Tbsp)
salt and pepper
Start off with your pork tenderloin in your glass baking, dish drizzle a little olive oil on the top. A tablespoon or two is enough. Salt and pepper the top of the pork.
Sprinkle the package of onion soup mix in the dish letting some of it land on the pork but get most of it in the bottom of the dish.
Chop up the onion however you like and arrange it around the pork. I prefer to leave the onion in fairly large pieces so that I can easily serve them over the pork later on… but whatever works for you, just make sure they are in there.
Add chicken broth until it is about 1- 1 1/2 inches deep or about half way up the pork. The actual amount will vary greatly depending on how big your cut of meat is and what size dish you use. It should be in the ballpark of 2-3 cups of broth.
Cover very tightly with foil.
I sometimes use this ceramic dish that has a glass lid and I still cover it with foil to bake it and save the glass lid for keeping the food warm after it comes out of the oven. It just seems to work so much better and the pork comes out so much juicer when I do it this way.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then reduce the temp to 250-275 and bake for approximately 3 more hours.
Since my oven is slightly lacking in the technology department, just look at it! **ignore the dirty breakfast dishes that are still out well into the afternoon…**
I just set the timer on my phone for 30 minutes to make sure that I don’t forget to reduce the temp.
The pork should pull apart with 2 forks when it is done.
I like to serve with it with black beans and rice and top, with the onions and a little of the left over broth from the baking dish. My Cuban friends would always serve theirs with pickled banana peppers on top.
This pork is delicious reheated as leftovers and doesn’t get that funny “left over pork” taste that sometimes accompany pork on the second day.
If you want to change up your leftovers a little, try your hand at making a Real Authentic Cuban Sandwich. This is the perfect pork for the job.
- pork tenderloin 2-3 lbs
- 1 large onion
- 1 package of onion soup mix
- chicken broth
- olive oil to drizzle (1-2 Tbsp)
- salt and pepper
- Place pork in baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
- Sprinkle package of soup mix over pork with most landing in the bottom of the dish.
- Place chopped onion around pork.
- Fill baking dish with broth so it is about one and a half inches deep.
- Cover tightly with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then reduce the temp to 250-275 and bake for approximately 3 more hours.