Puerco Asado with Homemade MOJO


You know who was on a roll this weekend? This lady (finger pointing at me). And I say this not because of this “jam“, I say it because I made my very first Puerco Asado without using bottled Mojo (Mo’-ho). Let me say that again, without using bottled Mojo!!! Okay, why the amazement? Mojo is a Spanish liquid concoction of flavors, not a brine because you cook your meat in the marinated juices. It’s main tanginess comes from Naranja Agria (bitter orange), you find those beauties at Hispanic markets. Unfortunately, for me here in Missouri this bitter orange does not exist. So I can’t just make my own Mojo….. or can I???

Now, our dear small local multi-ethnicity market which carries Hispanic products does have bottled Mojo. And I was there on Friday to grab our Cafe Bustelo packs, and other items. I told myself “don’t forget to grab some Mojo”…and what happened, my tush forgot. Yup, so much for that, by the time I remembered I was already at our big chain market grabbing the pork shoulder. Ugh, I was so upset! I really thought the shredded Puerco Asado goodness was no longer going to happen. I walked through their “Ethnic” aisle, no Mojo. I contemplated driving back out to the other market in the morning to pick up the Mojo but then the crucial overnight marinating party wouldn’t take place.

All hope was lost. Here sat a 4 lb Pork Shoulder in my cart, what to do! Then it hit me, bottled lemon juice and vinegar. It should work, I hope it works. Now, maybe one of you reading this may have thought “uh, yeah! why doesn’t she know this?”. I am no foodie, I know nothing about the chemical reaction that occurs when something gets mixed with another. I just know it works, and for recipes like Puerco Asado, I turn to family hand me downs. Recipes that have worked through the years. I sure don’t want to mess up making Puerco Asado. But I pushed through, believing in myself and praying it would work.

It sat marinating overnight. I prayed, and popped it in the oven. By the 3rd hour of roasting the smell in the house was intoxicating. We were hovering over the stove, counting down the time until we got to enjoy that deliciously seasoned, falling apart pork. My “experiment” WORKED! BABY CHEESES, IT WORKED!!! You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.

4 lb Pork Shoulder (with or without the bone)
1/2 large white onion chopped
6 garlic cloves
2 tbs dried oregano
1 & 1/2 tbs of salt
2 tbs garlic powder
1/2 cup of bottled lemon juice (from concentrate) *correction original post said not from concentrate. The bottled lemon juice is from concentrate.
1/2 cup of white vinegar
*2 qt oven safe glass baking dish or a disposable aluminum baking pan may be used to marinate and roast the pork. *

The pork shoulder should fit comfortably in a 2 qt oven safe baking dish. You want about 1/2 of it to sit in the marinate. Do not submerge the pork shoulder in the marinate. Place the chopped onion on the bottom of your baking dish or pan. Lay the pork shoulder over the onions.

In a measuring cup pour the lemon juice to 1/2 cup, and then complete with 1/2 a cup of vinegar. You should have 1 cup of the lemon/vinegar mixture. Pour over the pork shoulder sitting in the baking dish. Using a sharp knife, create wedges in various places throughout the shoulder to place the garlic cloves in. You want the cloves to go in deep.

Now, sprinkle 1 tbs of oregano, and 1 tbs of garlic powder over the shoulder. Sprinkle half of the salt on the shoulder, and flip over. Repeat the oregano, garlic powder, and salt seasoning unto the shoulder. Cover with aluminum foil and let it marinate in the fridge overnight (or at least 4 hrs). Flip the pork shoulder over, just before heading to bed or 2 hrs into the marinating party. You want both sides to get marinated.

Before placing it in the oven you need to remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it get to room temperature. If you fail to do this the glass dish may break in your oven.

BE SURE TO HAVE IT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE PLACING IT IN THE OVEN. This should take about 1 hour or so. Just sit in on your counter. Don’t forget about it, you don’t want it to sit there for 4 hrs at room temperature. Just enough to remove the cold from the dish. *You could avoid all this by using an aluminum disposable baking pan*

While it’s sitting on your counter, preheat your oven to 250 degrees. When ready, place the aluminum sealed baking dish or pan in to the middle rack of your oven. Set your timer for 2 hrs. After 2 hrs, flip the pork shoulder over, cover again and raise the temperature to 350. Roast for another hour. For the last hour, remove the aluminum foil and let it bake uncovered.

4hrs later. Check the temperature at the thickest part of the shoulder. It should read 170 degrees or a bit higher. Your pork should now be falling apart at the pull of a fork. Remove from the oven.

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