May 4th, 2008

Saturday pig roast

Caja china

I promise there’s a valid reason for the slowness in posting, but I’ll leave that for later. Yesterday D and I hosted a pig (shoulder) roast to celebrate two friends’ birthdays. It really wasn’t my idea; a friend suggested it and we agreed despite my warnings that I wanted nothing to do with the pig. Cooking a whole pig just seemed like a little too much work. In the end, we decided to roast just the shoulders since we had nowhere to store a whole pig overnight. Some people reassured us that it would be fine marinating overnight on the counter, but, sanitation concerns aside, our two labs would’ve most likely feasted on the beast.

With that settled, we borrowed a caja china — a pig roasting box — and on Thursday night, the boys got the shoulders ready for Saturday. They marinated them in mojo and injected them with brine. I refrained from opening my refrigerator too much the following day to avoid being hit by the wall of garlic-scented air inside. Not that it was bad, just a little potent.

Marinated pork shoulder

Saturday arrived and there was one thing left to do before the roast got underway. Our friend was going to stuff one of the shoulders using a winning recipe from Bobby Flay’s Cuban pork roast Throwdown. The pork is stuffed with ham, bacon, guava shells and prunes, and then rubbed with brown sugar and coated with malta.

Stuffed pork shoulder

My friend called the whole pig roasting process a rite of passage for any Cuban man. It’s definitely a man’s job, not that I couldn’t do it, but I’d rather leave the physical work to the guys. The pig was placed in the box, which was covered and then topped with 16 pounds of charcoal. The waiting began …

Pork roast

We waited for four long hours. At any given time, groups of guests gathered around the box as if standing there would somehow cheer on the pig to cook faster. Everyone was eager to eat but one has to admit that the wait is part of what makes the roast fun.

Pork shoulders

The pork is cooked skin down, once cooked, one has to turn it, score the skin and cook for another 30 minutes so the skin crisps up into crunchy decadence. When our friend announced that the pork was finally done, it was dark outside. Hungry guests raided the skin before the boys could even finish cutting up the pork. The stuffed pork shoulder was tender, sweet and juicy. Everything was a big hit and after seeing the process, the roast didn’t seem as complicated as it initially seemed to me. I may even host another one sometime, but I think I’ll still leave the heavy lifting to the boys.

Instructions and recipes for the mojo, brine and stuffed pork can be found at

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5 Responses to “Saturday pig roast”

  1. I did a caja china for 40 at my birthday in January. Whole pig. The guy offered to leave the caja china behind and I was tempted, but you are right, too much work.

    I’m going to try the Flay recipe, but just make it in the owen. That should scent the house for a solid two days. It also gives me an idea; I make a pork loin stuffed with rice and beans. Maybe a malta glaze would be killer for it.

  2. hi paula!! just wanted to say hi, and comment on such a great site about food in miami. my gf and i checked it out as soon as we got home after meeting you and D two weeks ago at the food and wine tasting on biscayne. we thought of you again this weekend when we went to michy’s close by that same restaurant–you HAVE to try the bread pudding there. i was amazed.

    anyways, it looks like your roast pig was a total hit! thanks for the recipe and link!

  3. Welcome Back Paulita! Great minds think alike…Polynesian Pig Roast and Tiki Party at my house on the 17th-everyone’s invited-be there!

  4. Alex – Let me know how it turns out in the oven if you try it. That might convince me to cook it more often.

    Steve – It was definitely a hit. The three shoulders disappeared in less than an hour.

    MD – I heard about your pig roast. I’m sad I’m going to miss it — I’ll be out of town, but can’t wait to hear about it.

  5. That was the best pig I’ve ever eaten! You guys rock!

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