Pining for the sights and people of Cuba, our Saturday afternoon took us to Bank Street's Havana Cafe where we had our usual Pollo en Cilantro and Ropa Vieja. We watched the plates of Cuban sandwiches pass by with envy while waiting for our own choices to arrive. Soon the chunks of savoury chicken and perfectly stringy seasoned beef and black beans fueled our impatience for our upcoming return to Las Tunas Province.
We got home to a texted invitation—our dear friend has invited us to a pig roast at his mother's house to start the celebration of his daughter's huge 15th birthday.
So with a head full of Cuba, and Havana Cafe, and the upcoming pig roast, I headed for the kitchen trying to recall a pork recipe I made some 10 years ago. (I am blessed with a memory for flavours). All I could recall is that all the ingredients were 3 teaspoons each and one of them was cumin, but I could taste the dish with clarity. My knock-off was a little salty so I have reduced the amount in the recipe below, but the flavour was true to my memory.
Cuban Inspired Pork
1 pork tenderloin (about 500g), patted dry
2 tsp course salt
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 large whole orange, Slice 2/3rds of the orange into 1/4" slices. Zest the skin of the remaining 3rd.
Thoroughly combine the dry ingredients, oil, lemon juice and half the orange zest.
(You can add the remaining orange zest to your side dishes to tie the flavours together).
Press the tenderloin into the marinade, coating all sides. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, turning a couple of times for an even coating.
Remove pork and marinade from the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 415 degrees F.
Remove pork from marinade bowl and add the orange slices to the marinade
In a braising pan, brown the tenderloin an all sides.
While the pork is browning turn orange slices a couple of times.
When the pork is browned, add a squeeze of the juice of the remaining 1/3 of the orange for a deep rich colour.
Line an oven tray with parchment paper.
Place the tenderloin in the pan, season with a pinch or course pepper, and cover with the orange slices.
Roast uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
(It will depend on the thickness of the tenderloin).
Remove the orange slices, let the meat rest for a few minutes.
Slice the pork into 1 inch medallions and serve with the roasted orange slices for garnish.
Suggested accompaniments: Black beans and rice, and fruit chutney.