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Aug 5, 2009 11:13 AM

Need ideas for adjusting Mexican pork recipe

I'm fairly new to cooking red meat - only recently started trying some locally raised stuff. Last weekend I made a Mexican pork recipe that involved rubbing chunks of pork shoulder with a spice blend and citrus juice, wrapping in banana leaves, marinating for 6 hours, then roasting for about 3 hours at 400 degrees. The texture and flavors were incredible - but the meat could have been more moist. How can I increase the moisture without dulling the flavor of the dish? Any suggestions appreciated!

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  1. Sounds like cochinita pibil. I think that 400º is just too hot, for one thing. But the plain fact is that this dish is always chewier than I'd like it to be, and I suspect that's how the Mexicans like it. Long marinating in citrus basically "cooks" the meat, as it does in ceviche, and then it gets cooked in the oven on top of that. Short of simply leaving out the citrus and making an entirely different dish of it, I can't see how to make it any moister. Cuban lechon, which is pork leg marinated in sour orange and then roasted, poses the same problem... except of course the Cubans don't agree that it IS a problem.

    1. I agree! Such a long roast at such a high temp is a recipe for dessication, if you ask me!

      Basilette, I would cut the chunks of pork larger (leaving in some of the fat to baste the meat), and cut the oven temp to 300. It sounds amazing, and I think it would be worth tinkering with. If that doesn't get the moistness you're after, maybe you could consider starting off at a high temp, reducing the heat after 30 minutes or so, and tossing a cup or two of liquid in the roasting pan? Some chicken broth or another neutral "carrier" with a good amount of the citrus juice, perhaps.

      1. Was it baked inside the banana leaves or were they only used during the marinade process? You could ask your meat counter person for a slab of back fat (or something similar) that you could lay on top of the pork while it's roasting. It doesn't take very much and ti helps prevent the meat from drying out. You could also rub the meat with some oil prior to roasting to help preserve the juices.
        I agree that the 400 degree temp. is too high. Reduce the temp. and cook it for a longer period and much of your dried out result should be eliminated. For tender juicy meats, low and slow is the key. Try to avoid basting your roasting meats (that cools the surface and increases cooking time) and avoid roasting meats in an open pan (except for browning periods) so it won't dry out quite as easily. Slow roasting helps preserve some of the gelitanized collagen in the meat fibers that cooking at higher temperatures destroye.

        1. 3 hours at 400°F sounds crazy to me.

          When I make pibil, I cook it at 275°F for up to five hours. It comes out very moist and very tasty. There's nothing stopping you from cooking it in a slow-cooker even.

          1. Larger "Chunks"...trim NO fat....lower temperature..250*...increase the time....5-6 hours