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Masitas de Puerco (Cuban Fried Pork Chunks)

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What is Masitas de Puerco?

Masitas de puerco is all about succulent pork chunks, marinated to perfection (overnight if you can wait), and then fried to a glorious golden brown. Every bite is a journey into the heart of Cuban cuisine, filled with rich flavors and unforgettable memories.

There are so many Cuban dishes that I remember the first time I ever ate them. Masitas de puerco is no exception. This recipe is a cherished part of my culinary journey. It all began when I moved in with my Cuban boyfriend, now my husband, and his big, lively family. Can you imagine a household with parents, sisters, a sister’s boyfriend, and kids? I made it to number 9! That’s how you know you’ve entered a Cuban home, right?

Anyways….One day, after coming home from work, the irresistible aroma of Masitas de Puerco greeted me outside. It lured me into the kitchen, where a pot of these delectable pork chunks was simmering. No time for questions; I grabbed a fork and took that first magical bite. The pork was tender on the inside, with a delightful crunch on the outside, and the flavors danced on my taste buds.

Just like I said when I shared the Pollo Asado recipe, the secret behind this recipe’s extraordinary taste is the Cuban mojo criollo (pronounced moh-hoh kree-oyo). It’s a delightful concoction of sour orange juice, garlic, salt, oregano, and cumin. Sour oranges, known as Seville oranges, are the stars of this show. If you can’t find them in your area, don’t worry; naranja agria is readily available at any Latin supermarket.

While every Cuban family has its unique twist on mojo, the base remains the same. Our recipe, influenced by my husband’s family, is characterized by an abundance of spices like cumin and oregano, resulting in a flavor explosion you won’t forget.

Ingredients Needed for Authentic Cuban Pork Chunks

All you need is a few key ingredients for the marinade and the pork itself. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Pork shoulder or pork butt: Choose a boneless cut of pork with a good ratio of fat to meat. This will ensure that the meat stays moist and tender during the cooking process.

2. Citrus juices: The marinade (mojo criollo) for Cuban pork chunks typically includes a combination of sour orange juice and lime juice. If sour oranges are not available, you can substitute with store bought naranja agria or check out the simple recipe here

3. Garlic: Garlic is a fundamental ingredient in Cuban cuisine, providing a savory and aromatic element to the marinade. Use fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor.

4. Aromatic herbs and spices: Traditional Cuban pork chunks are seasoned with a blend of oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. These spices add depth and complexity to the dish.

5. Olive oil: Olive oil helps to tenderize the meat and adds richness to the marinade.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Preparing and Marinating the Pork Chunks

Follow these step-by-step instructions to prepare and marinate the pork chunks:

1. Trim and cut the pork: Start by trimming any excess fat from the pork shoulder or pork butt. Cut the meat into evenly sized chunks, about 2 inches in diameter. This will ensure that the pork cooks evenly and absorbs the flavors of the marinade.

2. Prepare the marinade: In a large bowl, combine the citrus juices, olive oil, smashed or minced garlic, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together until well combined.

3. Marinate the pork: Place the pork chunks in a resealable plastic bag or a large bowl. Pour the marinade over the meat, making sure all the chunks are coated evenly. Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Marinating the pork for an extended period allows the flavors to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful dish.

Masitas de puerco marinating in mojo criollo before cooking.

4. Cook the pork: Using a large stock pot or Dutch oven heat the lard or oil on medium high heat. When the lard or oil is hot add pork pieces carefully one by one. Using a large strainer to catch the garlic, drain the marinade into the pot of cooking pork.

 

Masitas de Puerco  Recipe Tips

Pork – Cut a pork shoulder into 1 1/2″-2″ pieces. Pork loin or country style pork ribs work as substitutes. Smaller pieces are an option but be cautious while frying to prevent overcooking.

Mojo Criollo – You can use store-bought mojo criollo as a base, but don’t forget to enhance it with fresh smashed garlic, a touch more salt, cumin, oregano, and lime juice for that authentic Cuban flavor.

Frying – Traditionally, lard is used for frying, but vegetable, corn, or canola oil can also be substituted.

Alternative Cooking Techniques

1. Slow cooker: If you prefer a hands-off approach, consider using a slow cooker to cook the pork chunks. Simply follow the marinating instructions, then transfer the meat and marinade to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the pork is tender and falls apart easily. This method of course will have a different texture, the pork will not have a crispy outside since it is not fried. 

2. Grill: For those who enjoy the smoky flavors of outdoor cooking, grilling the pork chunks is an excellent option. Preheat the grill to medium heat and cook the marinated pork chunks, turning occasionally, until they are cooked through and have a slightly charred exterior.

Masitas de Puerco Perfect Sides

And no matter which side of beans and rice you choose, don’t forget to pair your Masitas de Puerco with a refreshing avocado salad and sweet maduros (fried plantains).

Sharing is Fun…..below is a Pinterest friendly photo!

Masitas de puerco for pinterest

Masitas de Puerco (Cuban Fried Pork Chunks)

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 120 mins Cook Time 90 mins Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 8
Best Season: Available

Description

Masitas de puerco is all about succulent pork chunks, marinated to perfection in a bright citrusy-garlicky Cuban mojo criollo, and then fried to a glorious golden brown. Every bite is a journey into the heart of Cuban cuisine, filled with rich flavors and unforgettable memories.

Ingredients

Mojo Criollo

Instructions

Mojo Criollo Marinade

  1. Using a mortar and pestle mash the garlic. Transfer the garlic to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors incorporate with each other.

Pork

  1. Cut pork into 1 1/2" to 2" pieces. Put the pieces of pork into a large non reactive bowl.
  2. Pour mojo criollo marinade over the pieces of pork. Make sure to completely submerge all of the pieces of pork. Let sit overnight if possible. If overnight isn’t possible at least let the pork marinate for a minimum of 2 hours.
  3. Using a large stock pot or Dutch oven heat lard or oil on medium high heat. When the lard or oil is hot add pork pieces carefully one by one. Using a large strainer to catch the garlic, drain the marinade into the pot of cooking pork.

  4. Cover the pork with a lid and continue to cook. What I like about making masitas is that you don’t have to babysit the meat too much. Let the pork cook on medium heat for about an hour moving the meat around occasionally. As the pork is cooking you will see the oil go through stages. When the oil looks cloudy there is still a lot of water that needs to cook off.
  5. During the last half hour the oil will clear up and the pork will start to brown. Turn the heat off and let the masitas cool in the oil. Keep any leftover pork in the oil to keep the meat tender.
  6. Last, heat a cast iron pan on medium heat and brown the cooked pieces of pork with some sliced onion pieces. Serve pork topped with cooked onion slices and rice and beans.
Keywords: fried pork chunks, Cuban masitas, pork marinated in mojo, authentic cuban recipe
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