Mojo Smoked Pulled Pork


This recipe for Mojo (moy'-yo) Pork is an adaptation of a recipe generously given to us by Chef Antonio Riaos. We took his oven roasted version and turned it into a low and slow smoked version for the ceramic charcoal cooker or other smoker. As you will see, it is a three-step process: marinate the pork in a spice paste, smoke the pork, and then pull the pork and finish with a sauce.

So real quickly, what is Mojo? In Cuban cooking mojo applies to any sauce that is made with garlic, olive oil and a citrus juice, traditionally sour orange juice. It is commonly used to flavor the cassava tuber and is also used to marinate roast pork. Now that we know what it is, let's cook our version of Chef Riaos' Mojo Pork!

You may wish to assemble your ingredients:


Here are most of the ingredients for making this dish. We'll refer to this photo later on to help you identify various ingredients in the recipe.


Step 1: The Paste
The first step in making this Mojo Pulled Pork is to make a spice paste that you will use to marinate the pork butt.

Ingredients
  • 7-8 pound pork butt
  • 3 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp Cholula Chipotle hot sauce (the small bottle to the left of the olive oil)
  • 4-5 Tbsp olive oil


Directions

  1. Prepare the paste by combining all the ingredients, adding enough oil to make a thick paste.
  2. Save 2 Tbsp of the paste for making the sauce later.
  3. Rinse the pork butt and pat dry. Place the pork butt on a platter, fat side down. Apply all of the paste to the top and sides of the pork butt.
  4. Cover the pork butt with plastic wrap. This will allow you to push the paste around to get even coverage, and it will make sure the paste is kept in contact with the pork.
  5. Refrigerate the pork butt for at least 4 hours.

Mojo Pulled Pork Marinating Paste
The ingredients for the paste have been combined and the oil added to make a thick paste.
Mojo Pulled Pork Marinating Paste applied to the pork butt
The paste has been applied to the top and sides of the pork butt, which is on a platter, fat side down.


Step 2: Smoking The Butt
Once the pork butt has marinated in the paste for a good long while, it's time to smoke the pork butt. This is done just like any other low and slow pork butt smoking you have ever done. We smoked our butt at 230 degrees for about 15 hours to a final temperature of 200 degrees. We happened to use four fist-sized chunks of maple for this particular pork butt, but use whatever wood strikes your fancy.

The set up we used in the photo below was a large Big Green Egg ceramic cooker, a plate setter inverted on the fire ring, a drip pan sitting on the plate setter, a grid on the plate setter, and finally the pork butt goes on the grid.

When the pork butt is done smoking, you don't really need to do any wrapping in foil or resting. We just took the pork butt out of the cooker and pulled it. You are going to drench it in Mojo sauce (the next section) so you don't really need to worry about juices redistributing or anything like that. (You should prepare the sauce during the last 2 hours or so of smoking the pork butt so that the sauce is ready when you are ready to pull the butt.)

Mojo Pulled Pork ready for cooking smoking Paste
The pork butt has just been placed in the cooker.
Mojo Pulled Pork after smoking Paste
The pork butt after it has been smoked for 15 hours. paste.


Step 3: The Mojo Sauce
Like we said before, you should make the sauce a couple of hours before the pork butt is done cooking. It will take some time to assemble and reduce.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup beer
  • 1/3 cup Pyrat Pistol rum
  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 packet Goya Sazon con culantro y achiote (see the photo of ingredients)
  • 20-30 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp of the reserved paste from step 1


Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a medium sized sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring often. Allow the sauce to reduce by half. The sauce should begin to feel a bit thicker than it started at this point.
  3. Pull the pork and place it in a aluminum or glass baking dish large enough to hold it all. Make sure you get all of the bark broken up and mixed in with the pork.
  4. Pour the reduced sauce over the pork. Stir it into the pork to make sure all the pork gets coated.
  5. Allow to rest for an hour or so.

Mojo sauce ready for the meat Paste
The mojo sauce is ready for the meat.
Mojo Pulled Pork close up
A closeup view of the Mojo Pulled Pork after saucing.


Serving Suggestions
You can serve Mojo Pulled Pork on a plate with some appropriate rice dish, but we prefer on a bun with some basic slaw, fries and a cold beer:


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