Preparing for the pig roast

17 11 2008
Lechon plate

Lechon plate

I thought I would continue to get you excited about the upcoming pig roast by providing you with a picture of a typical Lechon Asado plate.  The lechón (or roast pig for you gringos) is a typical Puerto Rican dish, usually served at large gatherings.  Common side dishes (for me, anyway) would include yellow rice and pigeon peas (arroz con gandules), tostones (or fried plantains), and amarillos (literally translated as “yellows,” these are baked sweet plantains). No green stuff here except for in the marinade.

The lechón is the Puerto Rican version of pulled pork. The only difference, really, is in the marinade. Whereas your typical barbecue pulled pork would be marinated with a vinegar or apple cider base, the Puerto Rican version is marinated with a “mojo” (pronounced moho).  My mojo will consist of bitter orange, olive oil, garlic (enough to choke a brood of vampires), fresh oregano, salt, and pepper. Pretty simple, yet incredibly flavorful.  What is bitter orange, you might ask? Well, I can’t find it around here. Although it is pretty common in the tropics, even my specialty grocer doesn’t carry this particular orange.  Here, it is commonly referred to as a Seville orange.  However, you can make a semblance of the bitter orange by combining equal parts of regular orange juice and lime juice.  It will work just fine for me.

By the time this pig is done cooking, it will just completely fall apart. Get your appetites ready.

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Tostones – Fried Green Plantains

16 01 2008

Its amazing how few people are familiar with the plantain. You know, the large green “bananas” you see in the produce section?

“Yeah, I’ve seen those before,” say most of my guests when they stare oddly at my plantain concoctions, “But I thought that they were just unripe bananas.”

plantain.jpgFor the uninitiated, the plantain is a fruit like the banana, but it has a much lower sugar content. I know of no one that eats these things raw, as they are always cooked. As the plantain ripens it takes on a yellow color with mottled brown spots and tastes sweeter. In fact, it will look just like a banana, except more firm in texture. The plantain is a staple in Latin cuisine and is used in various ways. In this post, I will focus on only one treatment.

Tostones are eaten throughout the Latin Americas and are prepared essentially the same way (in South America they are more commonly knows as patacones). First of all, the plantain needs to be peeled. Believe it or not, this is a fairly difficult task. Read the rest of this entry »