One of the kitchen tools I remember being extra special growing up was my Abuela Mia’s pressure cooker. I vividly remember sight of the little silver topper rattling back and forth, and the sound of the steam begging to be released as the pressure built up. When the Instant Pot exploded in popularity, I was initially resistant and my dad is still doubts it. The programmable pressure cooker is an electric version of the pressure cooker that you can simply plug into the wall, set and forget! After some hesitancy and rejiggering space in the kitchen for storage, I finally got one. Once I got more comfortable with the functions and features, I realized how much of a difference it could make in the traditional low-and-slow style Cuban recipes. It was my gateway tool to cooking like Mia did, but in my New York City apartment, faraway from the pressure cooker she had used for decades.
Every Christmas Eve, my dad makes his take on Cuban Lechon Asado, or a slow-roasted pork. It’s marinated in mojo, a super citrusy sour orange sauce bursting with garlic and onion. When I was craving this for dinner in NYC on a weeknight, I decided I could give it my twist with a smaller batch of pork shoulder using the Instant Pot.
While I’m sure I could have tracked down the sour oranges (pictured above) classically used in the marinade, I opted for mixing orange juice and lime to mimic the sourness of the naranja agria used in traditional mojo. I marinated the pork during the work day, then came back and let the gadget do it’s thing. I gave the pork a good sear in the Instant Pot (a bonus feature that you can’t do in a slow cooker) and then added the meat with the remaining marinade to the pot to begin the pressure cycle. After one hour (plus 30 minutes give or take with the timing needed for the IP to come up to pressure and do a natural release of the pressure after), I had absolutely fall-apart tender pork that rivaled my dad’s 24 hour recipe.
I like to remove the meat, shred it, and then strain the remaining mojo liquid to leave it crystal clear. Then I return the mojo back into the pot and use the sauté feature to reduce the liquid to a concentrated sauce. Any leftover pork can be eaten later in the week (it gets better with time!), frozen or used in an at-home take on a Cuban sandwich like I played with below.
You can take my step-by-step class making the Instant Pot Cuban Mojo Pork on the Food Network Kitchen app or get the recipe on FoodNetwork.com HERE!
If you’re serving your Cuban Mojo Pork for dinner, a side of black beans is an absolute MUST!
Making black beans with my dad is usually a full 48 hours experience that I adore, but just like the Lechon Asado, there are some nights where I think, “Black beans would be SO GOOD but I didn’t soak them!!!” I developed this recipe so you didn’t even have to THINK about soaking dried beans. Instead, you can pour them straight into the Instant Pot with the base of a Cuban sofrito (onions, garlic and green bell pepper) and go! The real key to Cuban black beans, though, is their subtle sweetness. Vino seco (a dry golden cooking wine), sugar and a splash of vinegar are the elements that make these beans POP. In under two hours, these beans are ready to go and taste just like the original version that simmers all day. If you have extra time on your hands, once your pressure cooker cycle has completed, you can let these beans continue to cook and soften while sauting on low in the Instant Pot. Add a little water as needed and they’ll continue to cook and absolutely melt in your mouth!
You can take my step-by-step class making the Instant Pot Cuban Black Beans on the Food Network Kitchen app or get the recipe on FoodNetwork.com HERE!
There’s absolutely something special about the low-and-slow simmering all day version of comfort food classics. When I have time, I love making both of these recipes the original way for that extra touch of flavor. On the weeknights where you’re craving a Cuban classic, but only have a fraction of the, I hope the Instant Pot will come in handy, especially with these two recipes. Can’t wait to keep sharing my twists on Cuban recipes with you!