Cuban "mojo" sauce
This weekend for breakfast we drove out to Porto's, a Cuban bakery in Glendale. It's a wildly popular place, with throngs of families crowding around the pastry counter and coffee bar. While waiting for our numbers to be called I asked two Latino ladies what I should get and was recommended a pastelito, flaky pastry with cream cheese and guava marmelade and the tender-crusted empanada rolls filled with pineapple or mango. They were delightful, washed down with shots of cortadito.
The "authentic" Cuban breakfast, however, consists of grilled Cuban bread lavished with butter and dunked in cafe con leche (boiling milk added to espresso to cut the bitterness, lots of sugar and a touch of salt for balance.) I will try this next time as well as sample a real Cuban sandwich such as pan con lechon, a garlicky roast pork sandwich served with thinly sliced plantain chips.
It's as if the cafecito got into my veins; I can't get Cuba out of my head. I have a renewed desire to take up Cuban-style salsa dancing and I want to find out all I can about Cuban-style cooking.
Unfortunately there are not many book titles on Cuban cuisine and I mainly culled websites of Cuban exile communities in Miami and New York. These tend to be sepia-colored with nostalgia for an old way of life in Havana that possibly no longer exists. The following is a recipe for mojo sauce, an excellent marinade for slow-cooked meats such as roasted pork shoulder. Serve with moros y cristianos, black beans and white rice, acccompanied by a salad of sliced avocado and red onion.
Mojo "soul" sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
3 heads of garlic, or 2 sliced onions, or both
3 naranja agrias, or sour oranges, juiced
(alternatively, use one sweet orange, two lemons and three limes)
pinch of cumin
2 teaspoons of salt
Combine all ingredients in a mixer to make a thick paste and rub into meat. Let marinate over night before slow-cooking. The garlic and citrus infused meat should be melt-in-your-mouth soft.