Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Dominican Roast Pork (GAPS-Legal)

Really, I do cook in styles other than Dominican. Honest. But for now you are just going to have to trust me on that one because what I share here with you today is, yes, another Dominican recipe.

This time for pig. Preferably a piggish object raised on a farm and enjoying the title "here piggy piggy" throughout its happy and multifaceted-food-filled life. We are blessed enough to have family friends who raise pigs (and chickens) on their gorgeous Virginia homestead, and, ever since they started porking, we started buying. It was indeed a joyous day that our freezer welcomed its first pork inhabitants.

You see, we Raimundos are the closest things to living dwarves that you will come across in this neck of the woods. Can you picture Gimli's eyes fluttering as he wistfully sighs, "Aye, sal' porrrk..." Yeah, that's us.

Now, there are plenty of ways to cook pig, including doing it Cuban-style in the backyard with a huge hole in the earth. But I am packing away my quarter of Cuban for this post, and throwing out the honey-cured store-bought ham we never liked anyway, to present you with the Green Monster: a roast pork haunch. (Besides, you really don't want me to tell you about that time Dad tried to do a pit-roast an entire pig in Cold Canadia, do you....)

To accomplish this surprisingly simple dish, you will need to gather:

~ A pork shoulder or leg (uncured, raw, fresh ham cut) from a farm-raised pig
~ Two bunches cilantro
~ One or two heads of garlic (yes, heads, not cloves)
~ An assorted mixture of a few lemons and many limes, about 6 or 7 in total
~ An abundance of dried oregano
~ Generous amounts of unrefined Sea, Celtic, or Himalayan salt
~ Enough ground black pepper to get along with (I know, I am so precise)

The first step in the pork-roasting process is to make the marinade. Fill a bowl with warm water and place your citrus in there to hang out for a while. Pull out a blender (and its lid....really, you will want the lid. I tried), rinse out your cilantro (don't bother drying the pretty green bunches), and toss said herb into your blender. Next, peel your heads and cloves of garlic. You can accomplish this by banging each clove on its round side with the broad side of a big knife. Smash! Now you have a piece of garlic from which the papery wrappings magically slide off. Throw all the peeled garlic into the blender.

See the fuzzies?

And now we come to the citrus. Dry off your warmed and juicy limes and lemons and, reserving one lemon, peel them, too. First, cut off the pointy ends of the fruits so that they can stand up on the cutting board. Then all you have to do is slide your knife down the sides of the citrus to remove their crocodile skins. The naked limes and lemons resemble cute, furry fuzz-balls, like creatures out of Monster's Inc. which Boo would want for her teddy bear. Anyway. Now cut the fuzz-balls in half to easily remove the seeds, then throw fuzz-balls into blender. I know it takes a long time to write out, but this method is much quicker than having to squeeze each lime and lemon by hand, and then having to make sure you don't have any seeds in the blender. Believe me, all this involves is peeling, slicing, and popping out seeds. And who doesn't enjoy that?

So, you've got a blender full of grass and cute little frutsies and things that look like teeth. Appetizing, I know, but salt solves everything. Let some of that salt rain down on the blender (about a heaping Tablespoon will do) and then add in about an equal amount of dried oregano. You can add a pinch of pepper, too, if you like.

Blend, baby, blend.

Cilantro, citrus, and salt. 'Tis scrumptious.
 You see where the "green" of the Green Monster comes in, eh? Well now we turn to the "monster" half of the name.

Pull out your pork leg and wash it. This means: Grab that reserved lemon and slice it. Then, take a clean sink and plop in the huge haunch and run it over with water. All around ~ inside, outside, and that fifth side nobody ever notices. With the water still running, rub the lemon all over the leg, just like you did with the water. Now pat the pork dry and place it on the roasting pan in which it will be roasted.

Sprinkle both sides of the roast with more salt, pepper, and oregano, and then introduce the Green to the Monster. Slather the stuff all over the thing, twisting and turning and positioning as you go. Music might be appropriate for this situation, especially if the leg is half the size of the cook.

It really was ginormous.
This process complete, cover the roast (fat-side up) with aluminum foil and pop (or hoist) it into the oven. I do all this in the morning and then let Pork get acquainted with Oven until noon, when I turn up the heat. If you want to have a proper mid-day dinner rather than eat this at supper, you can marinade the pork the night before and let it chill in the fridge until you shove the pan into the oven at the break of morn.

Whenever it is you decide to do the shoving and the heating, plan on cooking it, covered, in a 300* F oven for five to six hours. After that time, and when you see that the ham bone is exposed (that is, the muscle meat has shrunk back to reveal the bone), cast aside the aluminum foil and broil the roast at 450* F or 500* F for fifteen to thirty minutes, until the fat up top is nice and browned and everything smells so good you can hardly wait.

The Green Monster Roast. Blurry because I was probably
laughing while photographing. It happens ALL the time.
Remove roast and let rest, covered, for ten minutes before carving and dishing it up. You can serve this with Dominican Rice and Beans (recipe for the latter on its way) for an authentic meal. And don't forget to enjoy!

Photos by me.
This recipe took part in the Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.

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