Despite the soaring temps and sticky humidity, we still like to get outside and light up the grill. That is in part because we don't want to crank up the oven and stress our poor air conditioner even more, but also moreso because we simply like the act of grilling food over open fire and how good it tastes! Last year we had this old car sitting out front that we were anxious to be rid of. It just so happens that someone came by and offered to barter with us: in exchange for our old car, they'd trade us a whole hog and $100. I said, "Absolutely!" I'd gotten to the point of just wanting to give that car away, but why not fill the freezer in the process? They quartered the pig and my husband picked it up. Because it was too much for me to handle we used the $100 for butchering services, and we were very pleased, we got a load of bundles back, wrapped neatly in freezer paper. We had all sorts of fresh pork in packages. We referred to the summer of '2010 as our "Summer of Pork", because we had pork so many ways. BBQ'd, roasted, stir-fried, made into specialty sausages. And the pork has lasted a full year. Now our freezer has dwindled down to the last few white packages, and I can't believe that soon I will be forced to buy my pork from the grocery store at premium prices.
This weekend I decided to make a special "Cuban roast pork" out of one of the fresh hams (fresh hams are just regular pork, the "ham" portion of the pig, but not "smoked" like most people know hams). I marinated it in fresh squeezed lime & orange juices, olive oil & garlic....then I grilled (barbequed) it for 4 1/2 hours. I didn't use any wood chunks this time, just charcoal, as the Cubans typically aren't big on smoke flavors. And besides, I thought we could use leftovers to make pressed cuban sandwiches for lunches! As I BBQ'd and turned the ham, I brushed it with a mixture of fresh squeezed orange juice, beer & olive oil to help keep it moist. The first couple hours were a little touch n' go safety-wise. We tried to fashion a 'drip pan' out of heavy foil but it wasn't working out so well, and I was having to contend with flaring grease fires when I opened the lid. Unfortunately, opening the lid gave the fire a rush of oxygen, encouraging it. And turning the ham squeezed out more juices, causing sudden, large flare-ups...the flare-ups would shoot up past the top of the open grill lid, even burning the wood handle! At some point I realized that I might, inevitably, end up with severe burns to my arms as I tried to manipulate the ham around with long BBQ tools, I just never knew where the next large flare-up would occur. I was as careful as I could be and fortunately ended the whole BBQ ordeal burn-free. Which was good since I did not feel like visiting the ER today. And I refrained from my usual sipping of a glass or two of wine during the BBQ process, both because I needed to be sure to be on my toes completely, and 'cause if I did end up in the ER with 3rd degree burns because of a rogue flare-up, I didn't want my chart to read, "woman consumed alcohol while grilling over and open fire". While I knew I would not be "passing out" on the grill, that is how it'd read. One glass of wine and suddenly you're a bozo who decided to get loaded and grill. I think I was more afraid of the negative publicity (since I work in healthcare) than I was of the actual risk of burns! Fortunately I came out of it unscathed.
I sliced/cut up the grilled pork after it had a chance to cool some, and I drizzled it with mojo sauce. Yum! I served it with my version of "Spanish Risotto" and a mix of green beans and sliced zucchini. Served alongside a refreshing salad, some Cuban bread and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc, it was simply scrumptious!! And we are looking forward to our pressed Cuban sandwiches this week. Happy Summer to All!!