May 20, 2007



Get Your Mojo On


Start The Grilling Season With The Pungent Barbecue Of Cuba



Adam Ried


Come Memorial Day, thoughts may not stray much beyond the backyard grill. Steaks, burgers, and hot dogs are great, but if you want to up the ante on cookout fare, try the spicy, garlicky, pungent barbecue of Cuba defined by the signature sauce/marinade called mojo. Mojo variations abound, but the most basic includes garlic, cumin, and the juice of the sour orange, a fruit common in Cuba but exotic in Boston. Luckily, a mixture of orange and lime juice replicates the sharp, penetrating flavor. An ambitious cook could marinate and slow-barbecue the traditional whole pig, or a fresh ham or pork shoulder, but our more laid-back approach borrows the essence of mojo by packing the flavors into a wet rub to form a deep, flavorful crust on a quick-cooking grill-roasted pork loin. Add some sweet potatoes to the grill and a garnish of fresh orange salsa to the plate. Served with a salad or slaw and an icy mojito, and launch the summer season with an island vibe.




serves 6


We prefer to use extra virgin olive oil in our recipes. It comes from the first pressing of the olives and brings a distinct flavor to any dish.


4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon grated orange zest

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoons pepper

1 Tablespoon lime juice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon orange marmalade

1 boneless pork loin roast (about 3 pounds)

6 medium sweet potatoes


Prepare a charcoal grill. When the coals are covered with gray ash, push them to one side of the grill, set the grate in place, cover, and let the grill heat for 5 minutes. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and close lid to preheat cooking grates for 10 minutes; turn off one burner and adjust others to maintain grill temperature at about 350 degrees.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the garlic, orange zest, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of oil, and the marmalade. Set the pork on a cutting board, pat dry with paper towels, and tie into a compact cylinder with kitchen twine at 1 1/2-inch intervals; rub the meat all over with the garlic mixture. Rub the sweet potatoes all over

with the remaining oil.


Place the pork on the grate directly over the heat. Cook, turning several times until browned all over, 8 to 10 minutes. Position the pork, fat side up, on the cool side of the grill, along with the sweet potatoes. Close the cover (for charcoal grill, make sure cover vents are half open and positioned over pork and potatoes) and roast until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 140 degrees - 30 to 50 minutes.


Transfer the pork to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let it rest for about 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 150 degrees. Leave the sweet potatoes on the grill, replacing the cover to continue cooking them while the pork rests. Remove the potatoes, cut in half, and place around the perimeter of a large serving platter. Place the roast on a clean cutting board, remove the string, and cut the meat into 1/2-inch slices. Transfer to the center of the platter. Serve with salsa.




makes about 2 1/2 cups


For a spicier salsa, include the ribs and seeds of the chili along with its flesh.


5 medium navel oranges,

rind and pith removed, coarsely chopped

medium fresh serrano or jalapeno chili,

ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

teaspoon ground cumin

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon orange marmalade

salt and pepper, to taste


In a medium bowl, gently mix all of the ingredients until they are well combined and the marmalade has dissolved.






Many people think "barbecue" means anything cooked on the grill, but there are three distinct methods of such cooking:


GRILLING Real grilling means cooking food hot -- at 500 degrees, or more -- and fast. This works well with small, tender cuts like steaks, burgers, and chops. Place the meat directly over a hot flame to sear it and form a crust. For thicker cuts, sear and then finish over lower heat, so the meat will cook through without burning.


GRILL-ROASTING Grilling directly over high heat doesn't work for a roast or whole chicken. You'll end up with a charred exterior and an undercooked inner roast or bird. Grill-roasting uses indirect heat. Place the meat next to, not right over, the heat, and close the grill lid to maintain a cooking temperature of 300 to 400 degrees.


BARBECUING True barbecuing tenderizes large, tough cuts like ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket with hours of cooking over indirect heat at a temperature, between 200 and 300 degrees. This "low-and-slow" approach yields meats with a pronounced smoky flavor and so tender they often shred think pulled pork.






Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.