When temps drop here in Minnesota, my mind (and stomach) go wandering back to Florida. The sun, heat, beaches, and most of all the sublime Pork roasted in a bath of mojo sauce: Cuban Pork. I have shared in the past how formative to my cooking style and repertoire, the Cuban and Latin flavors of Tampa and Ybor City. I was a man with a grill and limited skill, but I got better!
Building Great Flavors Without Salt
One of the ways I did was to look into Cuban Recipes and Cookbooks. I found my Culinary equivalent of Soul Brothers in the Three Guys from Miami. Especially since one of them was from Minnesota! It made them seem like kindred spirits! I love to create flavors out of blending garlic, onion, and sour citrus! The only problem with a lot of the Cuban, Latin, and Caribbean food, is that the recipes called for a lot of salt. That would not do for the low sodium life!
So when I revisited many of the recipes I had used back in the day in Florida I had to hack the salt from the recipes. I have already done that with things like my Salt Free Tequila Lime Marinade, Low Sodium Jerk Chicken, and my Low Sodium Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Red Onion Salsa. A Cuban favorite still escapes me as to how to make it low sodium, The Cuban Sandwich. A Cuban sandwich is a perfection of mojo roasted pork on top of ham, with swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. Excellent flavor, but off the charts for sodium.
How to Make Cuban Food Healthier
To have it fit within our low sodium needs, I have been hacking the salt out of the components. I know how to make my own Salt Free Dill Pickles. I found the best tasting salt free mustard. The ham and the Cuban bread are still beyond my reach (if you have ideas, throw them in the comments below). I did recently master the Roasted Cuban Mojo Pork. I love to use it on top of beans and rice to make a healthy and filling Pork Bowl.
The Recipe Redux Challenge for this month was to grab a nearby cookbook and flip to a page number that coincides with the numbers in 2016. I went to my shelf and grabbed one of my many Cuban and Latin Cookbooks. Although this mojo is inspired by the mojo recipe from the Three Guys From Miami Mojo Recipe, there had to be many changes made. For one, we are in Minnesota, which lacks for a source for Sour Oranges or our Orange Juice. Finally, we had to hack the salt in order to make this heart healthy.
Low Sodium Cuban Pork
To make sure you are getting the lowest sodium, start by making sure you have fresh pork butt or shoulder. Pork that has been cured or frozen in saltwater will drive up the sodium. In place of the sour orange juice, I use a combo of orange, lemon, and lime juices with some vinegar to kick up the pucker. For an “authentic” mojo, people grind up the garlic and spices with salt in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. I do that too, but I use rough cut fresh garlic cloves to grind with the peppercorns. I then add the juice mixture, oil, and onions. I know, the onion might not be authentic, but they really make up for the missing salt. So let’s get onto the recipe!
The Recipe for Low Sodium Cuban Pork
A Heart Healthy version of this classic Cuban Dish
- 2 lb Fresh Pork Shoulder make sure it is uncured
- 1 cup Fresh Garlic Cloves Rough chopped, about 3-4 heads
- 2 Medium Onions Rough chopped
- 1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
- 1 tsp Spanish Paprika or Pimenton
- 2 tsp Oregano
- 1 cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- 2 cups Sour Orange Juice 2 Parts Orange Juice, 2 Parts Lemon Juice, & 1 part Lime Juice
- 1 cup White Vinegar
- 3 cups Jasmine Rice
- 2 cups Coconut Water
- 2 cups Water
- 3 cups Dried Pinto or Black Beans Cleaned and Rinsed
In a mortar bowl, add your garlic, peppercorns, paprika, oregano, and 2 tbsp of your olive oil and mash with a pestle to make a paste.
Blend together the juice of your lemons, limes, and oranges to make your sour orange juice. I like to use fresh squeezed.
In a 2 quart crockpot, add the pork, rough chopped onions, the garlic paste, dried beans, sour orange juice and vinegar and cook on low for six hours. The beans should be tender and the pork should be able to be shredded with a fork.
With 20 minutes left of the pork, prepare the rice in a saucepan with the coconut water and water, or use a rice cooker like I do, and you can set it up earlier, so the food is all ready at the same time.
Shred the cooked pork, and serve the pork, onions, and beans over rice and enjoy!
To see the other Recipes from this month’s Recipe Redux Challenge, Click below! Remember, even though these great recipes are prepared by other great registered dietitians and nutritionists, I can’t vouch for them to be low sodium. As always, check the ingredients and hack out the salt accordingly!
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