This has been one of my favorite foods since I was a child. Paired with Cuban black beans and white rice, I am always happy to eat leftovers (which is rarely ever the case). This recipe requires a little more effort than the one I originally learned, which is still super easy, but the ultra-crispy skin makes it well worthwhile. Bon Appetit!
Estimated Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marination Time: 2-3 days
Cook Time: 8 hours + 20 minutes (to broil)
Rest Times: 1 hour, 50 minutes (three total rest times)
Total Estimated Time: 10 hours, 25 minutes + marination time
Estimated Servings: 8-12
Estimated Calories per Serving: 720
8-11 lb Picnic Roast (pork shoulder from the top portion of the front leg)
Sofrito (see recipe)
– or –
1 bulb Garlic
Preferred Rub or Sofrito (cumin makes an excellent base)
Cooked Rice (white or brown)
Cuban Black Beans (see recipe)
Two to Three Days before Cooking
1. Create slits throughout the picnic, wide enough to press a finger into, and push sofrito all the way into each slit (I used all the remaining sofrito from the what I separated out for the Cuban Black Beans.) Coat the outside of the picnic with any remaining sofrito.
1. Peel the garlic, halving larger cloves. Create slits throughout picnic, wide enough to press a finger into, and stuff a garlic piece, along with some rub or sofrito, all the way into each slit. Coat with any remaining rub or sofrito.
2. Place picnic in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready for use.
1. Remove the picnic from the refrigerator an hour before cooking and let rest at room temperature. If using the sofrito, wipe away any coated along the outside so it doesn’t burn during broiling.
2. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 250˚.
3. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the wire rack. Place the picnic, uncovered, on the parchment paper, heaviest layer of skin side up. Transfer the pan to the oven for eight hours.
4. Remove the picnic from oven. There should be little resistance when a fork is inserted and lightly twisted into a section where there is no skin. Tent with tin foil and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
5. Set the oven to Lo Broil and allow to preheat while the picnic is resting, adjusting rack if needed so there will be at least four inches between the top of the picnic and the heating element.
6. Return the picnic to the oven and broil for a total of 20 minutes, flipping the picnic every five minutes, until the skin is blistered. If ultra-crispy skin isn’t desired, reduce the broil time accordingly.
7. Remove the picnic from the oven, tent with foil and allow to rest an additional 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
There is nothing better than crispy bacon, except maybe ultra-crispy picnic skin. Don’t get me wrong, the pork meat itself is delicious, but that skin... I almost hate making this because I spend the entire day surrounded by the delectable scent of it roasting, distracting me with thoughts of taking that first, crisp bite, and all the bites thereafter.
And while that is the hardest part of making this easy recipe, the second hardest part is waiting for time to tick down on the last 20-minute rest before cutting into it. However, once the rest time runs out, the rewards are ready to be savored, one crispy bite at a time.
Although I have switched to homemade sofrito, I’ve always loved the garlic cloves stuffed into the pork. It adds a great flavor. But while my husband likes garlic, he likes it in very limited quantities…basically just enough to add a hint of flavor. So, I have stopped stuffing the cloves in, which makes me doubly glad I went back to homemade sofrito. It is such an aromatic base, and while not a perfect replacement to satisfy my love of cooked garlic, it does much of the heavy lifting the garlic used to do.
Obviously, bone aside, this is a lot of meat. So, once I have carved it up and it has completely cooled down, I separate it into sections, enough for two to four individual meals, then vacuum seal and freeze the extra. Sadly, once refrigerated or frozen, the ultra-crispy skin softens. It is still really good. But the good news is, it can be reconstituted, so to speak, by placing the skin on lightly sprayed or oiled tinfoil and broiling it again for a short time. Just be sure to keep a sharp eye on it.
On a last note, saving the liquid found at the bottom of the roasting pan can be very useful. Once the fat rises to the top and is skimmed off, what remains is generally about a cup, it can be placed in a small Chinese soup-type container and frozen for later use. As it is greatly reduced down and has intense flavor, when combined with chicken or pork broth, it is an excellent replacement for a recipe requiring beef and/or beef broth, such as Feijoada.
Ingredient & Direction Notes:
a. Time dependent upon skill level.
b. Plus 30-45 minutes rest time if prepping ahead.
c. If you know a butcher that makes great Italian sausage, go for it. If not, Publix makes their own and is the best I have found when no good butcher version is readily available.
d. A neat trick, place the lemon in the microwave and nuke for 30 seconds. Carefully remove it from microwave, it will be hot, cut in half and juice. This trick gets more juice with a lot less effort.
e. Try to avoid larger veins when plucking the curly edges of the kale or the kale will either need to be cooked longer or those parts of the kale will be tough, chewy and fibrous.
f. Be sure to keep an eye out as the bacon can easily burn.
g. Most of this can be prepared the day before. The bacon can be cooked and refrigerated. The sausage, onion and garlic can be cooked a day or two before and refrigerated in a larger lidded container. The pesto also can be measured and combined with the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and juiced lemon and refrigerated until ready to use.
h. At this point, the soup will taste somewhat oily due to the bacon grease and the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. That will change once the remaining ingredients are added.