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I love Sunday dinner. Love it. I prefer to call it Sunday supper, even though my friends and family give me a little side eye when I say it. Hey, that’s what keeps life interesting, right?
Spring a bit of underutilized verbiage on someone and watch them do a double take. Oh, it’s the little things in life.
This month has been more than challenging for me, with personal upheavals I’ve realized that I need to learn the true art of letting go.
Let me preface this by saying, I am not a sit back and wait for stuff to happen kind of person. I’m a quiet type-A, the scary kind. I’m stealth and I get things done.
I don’t like a lot of chatter, I prefer doing rather than talking. So sitting back and waiting for someone else to make the right decision, doesn’t work with my nature…oh wait, let me do it for you. Step aside, it’s done. Now, where were we?
Oh yeah, letting go…it’s a learning process. I like to think that I’m adaptable. I’m fluid, I’m understanding. But, sometimes I’m not. I won’t even pretend to be.
The hardest part about trying to be an understanding person, is you actually have to recognize (for realz) that not everyone is going to make a decision you agree with… because even the ones you love are going to do things that make you seriously want to choke them out. At the end of the day no matter how much you love someone, you are not responsible for them – unless said people are under the age of 18 and live in your care.
I repeat, you (and I write this while looking at my own reflection) are not the manager of the universe.
No matter how much you want the people you love to make the right choices, they may upset, aggravate, and even sadden you. But wanting to do bodily harm to someone because they make choices you don’t agree with and can see the folly in… isn’t a good way to navigate through life.
So for your own sanity, I urge you to practice the gracious art of letting go.
Relinquish the grip of control, take a step or ten back, sit down, and do what you want to do. Go make yourself happy. Don’t worry about someone making a terrible choice, if they’re happy with their decision.
I know that sounds utterly cray. Because you’re probably saying, “Alexandra, they’re going to fall into a pit of stupidity compounded by sheer dumbness and they’re never going to climb out of it.”
“I know grasshopper, but it isn’t your problem. Wish them well, pray life treats them kindly, and let them go with grace.”
Because time and life experience don’t really matter when someone is doing something that makes you want to face palm while heavily rolling your eyes. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for themselves.
A wise old man who tried to date me repeatedly once told me, “Life is made up of choices.” Yes, it is. Accept their choice even if it’s stupid and dumb and keep it moving.
Show Your Family You Love Them with This Lechon Asado Recipe
So, for Sunday supper I decided that I was going to give my family a loving nod of appreciation and go full on Cuban. I would make the essential Cuban roast pork dish known as Lechon Asado and nothing says I love you like crisp crackling roasted pork.
Now traditionally to make this dish, you need a Caja China or China Box, which is a large five foot rectangular box that you place a whole pig in to roast all day.
The result is mouth-watering goodness enough to make you cry or slap your momma. Cry you shall when you taste this melty pull apart fork tender goodness. I’m not trying to feed the neighborhood and the idea of spending $300 for a wooden box with wheels that’s going to be used approximately once every five years doesn’t appeal to me.
Enter the grocery store, where I can easily buy a 12-14lb (5 – 6 kgs) Boston butt instead of a whole roasting pig. Now, I know 12lbs sounds like a lot of a family of 4-6, but it’s PORK. Did I mention its pork?
You’re not going to want to skimp on this and have to watch everyone when they go back for seconds to make sure they don’t eat it all. No, ma’am you want leftovers and lots of them, so trust me on this. If you’re just one person get a 4lb Boston butt, 4 or more go big or don’t do this at all.
This is the way your great-grandma used to cook, so show her a little respect and make a proper roast for Sunday supper. (See what I did there?)
Now you’re going to need to start your roast pork the night before. Yes, I know…this isn’t quick Rachael Ray 30 minute meal nonsense, this is old school cooking and I’m the head mistress, so sit down, sharpen your pencil and let’s get started shall we?
Lechon Asado Ingredients:
- 2 cups orange juice (I had tangerine juice in my fridge so I used that, I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try)
- 1 cup lime juice
- 2 heads of garlic peeled (not chopped about 15-20 cloves)
- 3 tablespoons kosher coarse / medium grain salt
- 4 stalks of fresh thyme (destalked) or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ tablespoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried lemon peel
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 yellow onions (cut horizontally in thirds – when ready to cook)
- 10-14 pounds pork should butt (Boston butt or Blade roast – bone-in is fine)
- A big clean food safe plastic bag (make sure it’s big enough to hold the marinade and the pork in it)
- A glass or ceramic roasting pan
How to Make Lechon Asado:
1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together well (except the garlic cloves and salt) and set aside
2. (Here’s where it gets fun: With a sharp knife stab the pork methodically and create a small slit) in each slit insert one garlic clove. Repeat all over pork especially under the top fat layer
3. After you’ve embedded the garlic in the pork, then rub salt well into the meat. Don’t be cute, get in there and give it a rub down – like its Rocky and your Adrian.
4. Place plastic bag in roasting pan and place pork fat side down in plastic bag
5. Pour marinade all over pork and seal or tie bag
6. Place in refrigerator overnight or at least 5 hours
The next day:
– Take pork out of the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours let it come to room temperature, (Don’t worry… nothing will happen, there’s so much acid and salt you’ve pretty much killed any microbes. Calm it down Berenice. )
– Preheat oven to 350°F
– Remove bag of pork from roasting dish, cut up your onions and place them at the bottom of your dish (this will serve as a rack for your pork and who doesn’t love slow roasted onions).
– Drain marinade into dish
– Place pork fat side up into dish
– Loosely tent and cover with foil
– Roast for 5-6 ½ hours
– Remove foil after 4 hours
I know a lot of lechon asado recipes tell you baste your pork every hour. You can do that if you like, I personally don’t – because I have better things to do on a Sunday afternoon.
I prefer to spend my Sundays laying by the pool sipping on rum and pineapple juice, while working on my tan, and making sure small unruly mini-people don’t jump off the pool steps into the deep end. Get back over here little one and eat some guacamole while your sister shows us how she became a mermaid.
Here’s the fun part, your pork needs to be blackened. Don’t get nervous, it’s not the char of burning meat, it’s the slow blackening of fat caramelizing into a hard meat candy shell and that is the *difference* my friends.
Once you’ve got a caramelized crusty outer shell, simply stick a fork in the middle (off to the side please, don’t disturb your perfect crust) and twist gently. If the meat falls apart it’s done.
Now let your pork rest loosely covered for 30 minutes. I know it’s going to be so hard to do…but trust, I will never lead you astray.
I like to serve my Lechon Asado recipe with black beans, white basmati rice, fried plantains and a fancy salad. It also goes fabulously well with 1000 Stories Zinfandel. The lush earthy feel of this wine cuts the fatty porky goodness and isn’t too astringent on the palate.
Enjoy dinner and let go of everything that doesn’t really matter.
Because honestly you aren’t living their life. Your living your life.
Those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t really matter. Do yourself and your anxiety levels a favor and let whatever is troubling you – truly go.
Savor this moment and spectacular meal with those who you’ve decided to share this deliciousness with, because they will appreciate it far more than you realize.