The 2014 movie Chef is a family favourite. It was definitely on high rotation for my boys. Sure there was lots of great food, but at it’s core it’s a father and son journey. A father and son’s boy’s own adventure where they discover things about themselves and their relationship over a shared experience. In this case a food truck.
It was such a hit that for a while we played the game “What would we sell in our food truck?”. #3 step-son dreamed of a family owned food truck that would travel around Australia. We were all given jobs. Even the cats. During the day we would travel to the next location, have a surf and then feed the town that night. By the way none of us can surf. But that’s the stuff dreams are made of; food and family.
Even though I grew up in America I had never had any of the foods served in the movie. I am kicking myself now because there was ample opportunity. I did my postdoctoral work in South Florida, just north of Miami. Yet I never had a Cubano, the marvelous toasted sandwiches of roast pork and ham which save our plucky heroes. I was in New Orleans a number of times, but have never had a beignet.
That didn’t stop us though from undertaking a project to create a movie inspired Cubano here in Sydney. A little bit of searching informed us that a Cubano was essentially a pork and ham toastie. We just needed to make some lechon asado, or pork shoulder, marinated in mojo and slow roasted.
Our Cubanos definitely have an Australian taste. We had a sour orange tree in our yard in South Florida, but you can’t seem to get them in Sydney. So I’ve soured up some sweet oranges with lemon and lime. You also can’t get Cuban bread, but a Vietnamese roll works a treat here. Throw on some preservative free ham, jarlsberg cheese and grill them to perfection. It’s an Australian Cubano, our creation and way better than one you can get anywhere else. It’s our shared experience.
Now we all just need to learn how to surf. Enjoy my friends.
Lechon Asado - Cuban Mojo Marinated Pork Roast
Melt in your mouth pork roast with flavours of citrus and garlic makes a perfect main with leftovers for sandwiches.
Required skills: ability to take things out of the oven without burning yourself.
You must use the shoulder for this dish, the leg meat is a bit too gamey. If you can get your hands on a bone in shoulder it’s worth the effort as the slow roasting on the bone keeps the meat moist. Be warned, it will be a very big piece of pork and you should be prepared to feed an army. I get good results with a rolled shoulder that I unroll. My butcher removes the extra fat between the skin and the pork so the crackling comes up very nicely. Serve it up with some onions that have been browned in the pork fat and leftover mojo, and save the leftovers for Cubanos.
- 1 pork shoulder
- Coarse sea salt
- 3 sour oranges or 1 orange, 1 lemon, and 2 limes
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- Non-metal dish that can hold your pork and the marinade
- Roasting pan
- 6 brown onions, thinly sliced
- If you have a rolled pork shoulder, unroll it and lay it flat. If the skin has been sliced away from the meat, seal it and keep in refrigerated until it’s time to roast the pork. It’s fine if the skin is still attached to the meat. Using a paring knife cut deep slits, no wider than the knife into the meat. Stuff these cavities with salt.
- Make your mojo. If you have sour oranges, well lucky you. If not a reasonable substitute is a ratio of 1 orange:1 lemon:2 limes. Juice these and remove the seeds, but keep the pulp.
- In a blender whizz the citrus juice, garlic, bay leaves and a generous pinch of salt.
- Place half the mojo in your non-metal dish, push in the pork and cover with the remaining mojo. If it’s not enough mojo then whip up some more.
- Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least overnight. I left it for as long as two days.
- Preheat oven to 150C (300F)
- Lift the pork out of the marinade and let it drain. Keep the marinade for roasting the pork and cooking the onions in. Place in your roasting pan. Give it a good splash of the marinade and then place the skin back over the meat. Brush the skin with some of the marinade.
- Roast for 3 hours, periodically adding some of the marinade to keep the meat moist. If the skin is starting to burn, cover it with some baking paper.
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving.
- While the meat is resting pour some of the fat and drippings from the roast into a frying pan. Bring to medium/high heat on the stove and toss in the onions. Reduce heat to medium and sweat the onions. Once they have softened add enough marinade to cover the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook the onions until they are brown.
So my friends, what dishes from a movie have you been inspired to make?