Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cuban Braised Pork with Caramelized Onions

Slow-cooked pork is one of the most flavorful, succulent meat dishes around. It’s the basis of “pulled pork” recipes, which simply means shredding (or “pulling”) the tender meat before serving. The pork makes a great filling for warm tortillas—along with sweet caramelized onions and fresh cilantro—for a simple, satisfying dinner with a little Latin American flair.

I included traditional Cuban “mojo” ingredients for the braising liquid in this recipe. Mojo is the go-to sauce on tables throughout Cuba, adding savory, citrusy, and garlicky flavor to anything it’s paired with. Other than the flavor, the best part about it is how simple and common the ingredients are: orange, lime, garlic, oregano, cumin, and cilantro.

Serve the wraps with a side of black beans, or skip the tortillas and beans and serve the pork and onions over a bed of steamed white rice.

Serves 4


For the Braised Pork
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2-lb pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 seedless orange, quartered
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 14.5-oz can of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups loose cilantro sprigs, long stems removed
  • 4 fajita-sized tortillas (or 8 taco-sized flour tortillas)
Fruit and Vegetables for the Pork Braising Liquid

For the Caramelized Onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, cut into thin, vertical strips
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Braised Pork
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven (or large, heavy, ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid) over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  3. Add the pork, garlic, and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the pork begins to brown in spots, turning 2-3 times, about 5 minutes.
  4. Squeeze the juice from the orange and lime quarters into the pot, then stir in the cumin and oregano. Cook 2 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a light simmer. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Braise 1 1/2 hours. 
  6. Reduce the temperature to 250° and stir the ingredients. Return the cover to the pot and braise 1 hour longer.
  7. Remove the pork to a bowl with a slotted spoon. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers, or, alternatively, use 2 forks to shred the meat. (If it's too cool to serve at this point, place it in a skillet and warm over low heat on the stovetop. Add a little of the braising liquid to keep it moist.)
  8. To serve, place the pulled pork, caramelized onions (recipe follows), and cilantro in separate bowls alongside the tortillas and let your guests build their own wraps.
Pork Sauted on the Stovetop
Pork with Juices and Broth Ready to Braise
Pork after 1.5 Hours of Braising
Braised Pork
Pulled Braised Pork

For the Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add the oil and butter.
  2. When the butter has melted, add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to low.
  3. Cook slowly until the onions are very soft and caramelized, stirring a few times, about 20 minutes.
Onions Beginning to Cook
Caramelized Onions


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