In Cuba, food is more than just sustenance – it’s a way of life. The love of family and friends runs deep in this culture, and what better way to express that love than through food? Simple ingredients with big flavor are at the heart of Cuban cuisine, and rice and beans are primary staples. But don’t let the simplicity fool you – Cuban food is a unique blend of Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences, resulting in a diverse range of dishes that everyone can enjoy.
One such dish is Lechon Asado, a slow-roasted pork that’s seasoned with a delicious mix of herbs and spices, like garlic, oregano, and cumin. The pork shoulder is marinated overnight in a citrusy, garlicky mixture that tenderizes the meat and infuses it with even more flavor. As it roasts for several hours, the meat becomes juicy and succulent. Pair it with some Cuban sides like congri and fried plantains, or go with a simple rice and salad.
But the pork isn’t the only thing that’s delicious – the skin and fat get used to make a tasty snack called Chicharrones. These crispy little bites are perfect for munching on as you cook or enjoying with an afternoon mojito. And if any make it to the main meal, they’re often sprinkled on top of the rice for some extra flavor.
Finally, we can’t talk about Cuban food without mentioning the iconic Cuban Sandwich. This popular lunch item originated from the flow of cigar workers between Cuba and Florida and is made with sliced ham, marinated pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, all sandwiched between a special Cuban bread. This bread is unique, with a palmetto leaf on top that gives it a distinct flavor. And to top it all off, the sandwich is pressed overheat, making the outside nice and crispy.
In Cuba, food is a celebration and a way to show love and hospitality. With its bold spices, fresh ingredients, and diverse influences, Cuban cuisine has become beloved around the world. Whether you’re enjoying a slow-roasted pork, some crispy chicharrones, or a classic Cuban sandwich, you’re sure to love the delicious flavors of this unique cuisine.
Are you hungry now? Well, get your taste buds ready for some scrumptious Cuban food!
Lechón asado means roast pork with a few variations in flavorings, depending where you are. While we are being technical, it is meant to be a whole suckling pig. However, given that most Cubans don’t have an oven or a charcoal spit, you often see this dish prepared as a pot roast of a pork leg or shoulder.
Preparation – 10 mins
Cooking time – 3 hours
2 kg Pork leg or shoulder
traditionally sour orange juice, however lime juice, lemon juice, quamcot juices all work
1 small Onion, purple is sweeter
4 cloves Garlic
Salt to taste
Cumin to taste
Oregano (but if you don’t have this, it’s OK)
Making this dish is extremely easy!
Get out your mortar and pestle (or food processor)
Chop your onion and garlic and add to the mortar and pestle with all other ingredient, then mash it into a paste.
Remove the skin and the fat from the pork and put it aside for the moment.
Rub the marinade on the pork. Cover the pork and put it in the fridge overnight.
The following day, remove the pork from the oven an hour before it needs to go in the oven, so the meat returns to room temperature prior to cooking.
Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius
Place a small cup of water (I use my espresso cup) of water in the baking dish, add the pork and cover it. Put it in the oven and cook for 2 hours covered, then remove the cover and cook the pork for another hour.
Once the pork is cooked, you can nicely slice it and eat it with plain rice and a simple salad or have it with congri (black bean and rice).
Most definitely put some of the pan juices over your rice.
The delicious dish is simply pork skin and fat or sometimes the belly that is deep-fried. You may know the fried skin part as crackling.
Prep time 15 mins
Cook time 60 mins
Pork skin, fat or belly – I could give you amounts, but really that part is up to you. Really you can make it out of as little as removing the skin of your roast port and cooking it up there and then or grabbing a piece of pork belly and prepare snacks for Friday drinks…
Cooking oil or lard
Separate the skin from the fat or meaty bits. The reason we do this is because, when you go to fry the pork rinds, if you leave the fat on it puffs up and floats the pork skin to the top, thus your pork skin won’t sizzle or get crispy, instead it will become hard and impossible to chew. Definitely not the result we are after!
Cut all bits into 1cmx1cm squares and keep the skin bits and fatty/meaty bits apart.
Get a medium pot and place the fatty bits only in there over medium low heat. Cook gently until most of the fat has liquified. Given we are making small pieces to eat as snack each batch will take around 15 mins. Use a slotted spoon to remove these delicious morsels from the pot. – Despite what you think, this is actually the perfect keto snack! Add salt as soon as it’s out of the pot.
You can then cook any meaty bits in same oil/fat at medium heat, remove with a slotted spoon once cooked and season with salt.
Then put the heat up to high before cooking the skin. Oil should be quite hot but not bubbling.
Add pork rinds and cook until they bubble and puff up, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle immediately with salt.
You can store them in airtight container for 3-4 days…
You gotta try the Cubano, aka the Cuban sandwich! This tasty creation was dreamed up by Cuban immigrants in Florida (Key West and Tampa, to be exact) who needed a hearty lunch that was easy to tote around.
The sandwich itself consists of grilled ham and cheese, but the real superstar is the roasted pork, which is marinated in a zesty mojo sauce featuring flavors like orange juice, lime juice, garlic, oregano, and cumin. In fact, the pork is so delicious that using leftover Cuban roast pork to make your Cubanos is a must. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you.
Prep time 10 mins
Cooking time 5 mins
1 loaf Cuban bread if you can get it, otherwise French bread, Panini or soft bread rolls work well
1/4 cup American mustard or yellow mustard
500g Sliced Ham – whether it’s double smoked, serrano, honey glazed is up to you
500g Left over Cuban Roast Pork
250g Swiss Cheese
6 dill pickles sliced
The order of the layering is important!
First, spread the mustard on both side of the bread. Then add ham as the first layer in the bread, followed by the pork, pickles and the cheese, then the bread.
Once the sandwich is created, but it in a sandwich press. The goal is to press the bread down to about 1/3 of its original size.