Impress guests at your next dinner with this easy and delicious roasted pork leg recipe.
By Mely Martinez
This pork roast is an easy way to enjoy pork and impress your guests if you make it for a nice dinner. The actual prep time takes only a few minutes, and it is so well seasoned that the leftovers can be used for other dishes likes Pork pibil, pozole, pork in salsa verde, and even tamales.
The marinade is inspired by a dish made in the Yucatan Peninsula, called “sucking pig” or “lechón”. Just a few ingredients combined with the slow roasting transform this recipe into a finger-licking meal.
The recipe for the marinade has had some influence from the Caribbean, but in Yucatan they like to roast the meat in a Mayan Pib, a type of earth oven. It consists of a wood fire lit inside an earth pit with stones. Once the wood has turned into coals, the rocks retain the heat that will cook the meat, which is wrapped in banana leaves and placed in a metal container. The pit is then covered with more leaves and then buried until the meat is tender and packed with flavor. This of course gives the meat a wonderful smoky flavor, but roasting it in your regular oven will also render a concentration of flavors. I like to make this roast when we have guests for dinner, as it is easy to prepare, and everyone loves it. We usually serve it with mashed potatoes and a salad.
- 1 (12-13 Lbs.,) Pork leg or shoulder, room temperature.
- Salt to season
- 12 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion (optional)*
- 1 Tbsp. Mexican Oregano
- 2 Tsps. Cumin
- 1 Tsp. whole black pepper
- 1 ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup white vinegar
- You will also need aluminum foil or a baking bag. Banana leaves will absolutely give the roast some added flavor, but not everyone has access to them.
- Traditionally, onion is not used in this marinade; if you skip the onion your meat will still taste wonderful. (Some people find the onion flavor too strong)
- Cooking times will vary from oven to oven, and depending on the size of your roast. Also, if you want a fall-off-the-bone tender meat, it will require a longer cooking period. For better results use a Meat Thermometer.
- Preheat your oven at 350F
- Pat the roast dry using paper towels. With a pairing knife, score the skin or fat to make a diamond-shaped pattern. (Make sure not to cut the underlying meat)
- Season the roast liberally with salt, making sure it’s salted all over.
- Place garlic, onion (if using), oregano, cumin, whole black pepper, orange juice and vinegar into a blender. Process until it has a very smooth texture. Set aside.
- Turn the roast on the meat side (the one that has no skin on), and with the pairing knife make some incisions about ½ inch deep, about 1 inch apart from each other.
- Place roast in the roasting pan, pour the marinade over it, and cover with aluminum foil. If using a baking bag, place roast with the marinade inside the bag that has been previously treated with a little flour, with the incisions that the manufacturer indicates in the package.
- Put the roast in your preheated oven, and baste with the marinade, as well as the cooking juices that will be released in the pan during the roasting time. If possible, turn the roast once. Roast 15 minutes per pound, or until the meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the meat, reads 165 degrees.
- Remove the roast from the oven; let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a gravy bowl or sauce bowl; season with salt if needed.