Cuban Christmas Eve "Pig" / Lechon Asado

Serves: 16
Total Calories: 464


1 ham, whole, fresh (18 to 20 pounds see Note)
2 heads garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
2 tablespoons salt, coarse (kosher or sea)
1 tablespoon oregano, dried
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 cups orange juice, fresh and sour or 1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice plus 1/2 cup fresh regular orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sherry, dry
2 onions, large, thinly sliced
4 bay leaves
2 recipes Cuban Mojo (see recipe)


2 recipes Cuban Mojo

(recipe follows)

1. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make shallow slits in both the skin and meat sides of the ham, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Set aside while you prepare the marinade.

2. Combine the garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, and pepper in a mortar and pound to a smooth paste with the pestle, then work in 1 cup of the juice and the oil. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, combine all these ingredients in a blender. Rub this mixture all over the ham, forcing it into the slits. Place the ham in a large plastic bag (such as a garbage bag) with the remaining 1 cup juice, the sherry, onions, and bay leaves. Marinate overnight or even up to 48 hours, turning several times.

3. Set up the grill for indirect grilling, placing a drip pan in the center, and preheat to high. When ready to cook, place the ham, meat side down, on the hot grate over the drip pan and cover the grill.

4. Cook the ham until the skin is well browned and very crisp and the meat is fork-tender. When tested with an instant-read meat thermometer, the internal temperature should register about 190°F. (Cubans like their pork more well done than we do.) If using charcoal, add 10 to 12 fresh coals per side after each hour of cooking. The whole process will take 6 to 8 hours. If the skin browns too much, drape a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over it.

5. Transfer the ham to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut the meat off the bone and chop with a cleaver or thinly slice (be sure to include a little skin). Splash the meat with the Cuban Mojo and serve immediately.

Serves 16 to 20

Note: You can also prepare a pork loin (2 to 3 pounds) or shoulder (4 to 6 pounds) the same way. You’d need only half as much marinade, and the cooking time would be 4 to 6 hours for the pork shoulder, 1 to 2 hours for the loin.

Nutritional Facts:

Serves: 16
Total Calories: 464
Calories from Fat: 30

This Cuban Christmas Eve "Pig" / Lechon Asado recipe is from the The Barbecue Bible Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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