Mojo Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa, A Hint of Cuba
Packed with bright citrus flavour, Caribbean spice and finished with a kick of fresh fruit. Mojo Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa; fresh summer fun with a hint of Cuban cuisine.
With borders now re-opened to their American neighbours, I expect the quality of food in Cuba to greatly improve. Traveling through Cuba in 2010 I fell in love with it’s architecture, with it’s the peeling paint and cracked facades. It’s people were warm and kind, highly educated and eager to please. The scenery was stunning, rich and tropical, green, growing and completely sundrenched; but the cuisine of Cuba was a disappointment.
Having indulged (greatly!) in Cuban cuisine and culture in Florida I expected spice and tang – but got ham and cheese. A lot of ham and cheese. Not that I have anything against ham & cheese and a great Cubano sandwich toasted in butter, but a gal cannot live on ham & cheese alone. I remember being excited to see a sign that read ‘HOT DOGS’ in bold print at the Havana airport, running over I found they were out of hot dogs. “You want ham & cheese?” the vendor offered hopefully. “No thanks, I had ham and cheese for breakfast… and lunch.”
Until now food has been a tightly controlled commodity in Cuba. Farmers required a licence to own livestock, which was closely monitored. Fishing was heavily regulated, and the spices that mark the cornerstone of Cuban cuisine, were hard to come by. Could the current shift in politics mean a loosening of the stings attached to the tables of Cuba? Here’s hoping.
Mojo is a marinade used largely for pork and chicken that you see featured throughout the Caribbean & South America. Citrus based, Mojo often features lime and/or orange as well as vinegar and is followed by a spice rub (heavy on the cumin), before hitting the pan. I love travel, if for no other reason than to bring home the flavours that coloured my journey. Here we’ve paired Mojo Pork Chops with white rice and a Pineapple Salsa for a little taste of Cuba from the home kitchen.
Mojo Pork Chops Recipe
Prep time: 30 minutes + 1 hour marinade
Cooking time: 35 minutes
1 cup plus 1/4 cup orange juice, divided
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 pork chops, bone-in, thick cut
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup red onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 tomato, chopped
5 green onions, chopped fine
1. In a zip-and-seal bag combine 1 cup orange juice, a 1/2 cup of lime juice, the apple cider vinegar along with your pork chops. Seal, removing as much air as possible and marinate in the fridge for one to one and a half hours.
2. Combine dry spices in a small bowl, mix well and reserve. Remove chops from marinade, pat dry with paper towel and rub with dry spice mix (discard marinade).
3. Heat a large saute pan over high heat, when hot add your oil to coat, then add chops to sear on one side – being careful not to burn the spices. Flip chop and reduce heat to medium-low. Add red onions and saute a minute for two, then add garlic and cook until garlic begins to brown. Add remaining orange & lime juice and white wine and simmer.
4. By now your chops should be cooked through, so remove them to a plate and reserve warm. Add tomatoes and green onion to sauce as it continues to reduce. Once sauce is reduced by about half, pour over chops and serve.
Pineapple Salsa Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: about 3 cups
2 cups fresh pineapple, diced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded & diced
1/4 cup purple onion, diced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped fine
1 jalapeno pepper (seeds and all), diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste
While chops marinade, prep your pineapple salsa and reserve until needed. Cut all fruit, herbs and vegetables to approximately the same size. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and allow to stand for about an hour for flavors to blend & marinade. Serve fresh as garnish for Mojo Pork chops or try our Mexican Blackened Chicken recipe.