If you’ve read my recent Mojo blog post, you already know that Mojo was invented in the Canary Islands and that the Cuban variation is part of my husband’s history. Having grown up in Hialeah, near Miami, Florida, where there is a strong Cuban influence on cuisine, Mojo pork became a comfort food for him. Once I tasted this dish, I understood why it was so.
In colder weather I cook the loin in the crockpot. In the words of Ron Popeil’s iconic Showtime Rotisserie commercial, you can “set it and forget it.” The smell carries for hours and really whets the appetite. I confess, I sometimes come up with reasons to step outside just to enjoy the aroma anew when I walk back in. However, a slow grilled version is absolutely delightful, and only takes about an hour for a 2 lb narrowly cut tenderloin. We’ve grilled a couple this summer and it comes out moist, tender … and tasty.
You can use this marinade with other meats, but mojo pork loin is a Cuban classic. The more marinade time you give the loin, the more the flavor infuses—garlic tempered by citrus with a hint of other seasonings. You can easily make this gluten-free dish low sodium by reducing or eliminating the salt in the mojo.
Vegetarian or vegan? Read on. I’ve not forgotten you. Marinate tofu or meaty mushrooms and sauté, bake or grill instead of slow cooking. Portobello mushrooms are absolutely delightful grilled. I marinated them overnight, and after just 12 minutes on the grill we had a mushroom as tender, meaty and flavorful as a steak. Seriously!
TIP: Use large, portobello mushrooms, trim the stalk and cook 12 -15 minutes, cooking each side about 3 minutes in turns until the mushroom is done.
Since I like to make the Mojo ahead (and you can buy it bottled), I’m going to call this a two-ingredient meal that qualifies for my ongoing challenge to find simple dishes made with no more than four ingredients.
Typically, we serve pork loin with black beans and rice and Cuban bread. We can’t get Cuban bread in northeast Tennessee, so we substitute an Italian loaf, or I’ll make a loaf of Cuban bread. The loin also goes well with cabbage sriracha. Or, you could try cabbage Cuban style (but that’s a post for another day). However (and whatever) you cook up, relax and enjoy the aromas and flavors of this iconic dish.
“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”― Norman Kolpas
2 to 3 lb pork loin or tenderloin, trimmed
About 1 1/2 C Mojo
Total prep time: about 8 hours (30 minutes prep) in slow cooker; about 1 hour on grill for 2 to 1/2 lb loin
Yields: about 10 servings
Trim excess fat off of pork loin and set aside.
Pour Mojo over pork loin and marinate for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
Place in slow cooker and pour in marinade. Cook on low until meat reaches (145 degrees). On grill, cook each side about 30 minutes on low heat, until internal temp reaches (145 degrees).
Let rest about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Serve with frijoles negros (black beans) and rice, cabbage sriracha or other vegetable side and Cuban bread.