New Year’s Eve is a big celebration in Mexico accompanied with food, music and fireworks. Families gather to celebrate the end of the old year (“el año viejo”) and to welcome the new one. The firecrackers start just a few minutes before midnight, the glasses of wine start to get filled up, and right at 12:00 am everyone cheers and toasts to the New year, hugging each other and wishing the best for everyone in the
brand new year. It is also a time when people do some of the many traditional rites, like eating 12 grapes by the time the clock rings at midnight, which represents 12 wishes, or wearing red underwear to attract love. One thing that many families still do is to clean and paint their houses and get rid of old things to start the new year fresh.
But there’s one other thing that is also traditional in Mexico, the “recalentado”, meaning the leftovers that are reheated the next day. Yes, when cooking dinner for New Year’s Eve you keep in mind that the next day some friends or relatives will stop by to wish you a happy new year and for the recalentado (leftovers), that sometimes tastes better the next day. Roasted pork leg, tamales and Pork Leg in Adobo are some of the dishes that many families prefer for New Year’s Eve dinner since the leftovers are really tasty.
INGREDIENTS FOR A 10 LBS PORK LEG (ABOUT 20 SERVINGS)
- 1 PORK LEG ABOUT 10 LBS, SKIN REMOVED
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1/2 large white onion
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon of coarse salt
- Alumninum foil or baking bag
- 8 Ancho Peppers, cleaned and deveined
- 6 Pasilla Peppers, cleaned and deveined
- 2 cups of orange juice
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of coarse salt
- 3 tablespoons of melted lard
*If you are using the baking bag, then the pork leg should beplaced inside the bag and then into a large baking dish. Marinate for at least 6 hours, or preferably, overnight. Turn the meat at least once during the process. This step will tenderize the meat and infuses the flavors. Baking the meat in the oven bag will take less time and will render a juicy meat.
1. First pierce the pork leg with the help of a sharp knife.
2. Roast the garlic and onion on a skillet. Transfer the roasted onion and garlic along with bay leaves, oregano, black pepper, cumin, orange juice, vinegar and salt into a blender. Process until you have a smooth sauce, almost like a paste.
3. Transfer the Pork leg to a large baking dish and cover with the marinate sauce making sure it gets inside the incisions and penetrates the meat.
Now to the Adobo sauce instructions:
4. Toast the peppers on a griddle or comal over a medium heat. Remember that this is a quick step to avoid bitter flavors from burnt peppers.
5. Place the peppers in a small saucepan and cover with water. Simmer for about 8 minutes until they are soft. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
6. Drain the peppers and place them in your blender with the orange juice, vinegar, and water. Puree until mixture is smooth and season to taste with the salt.
7. Baking day, remove pork leg from refrigerator and let stand until room temperature. Preheat oven 20 minutes before roasting at 350F .
8. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted lard on the meat, making sure to cover it all around. Then cover pork leg all over with half of the Adobo sauce and place in the preheated oven. Cover meat with aluminum foil. If using the baking bag, make sure to tie the bag and make the incisions according to the package instructions.
9. After 1 hour, turn the meat and baste with it’s own juices, baste the meat one hour later and turn the pork leg over. Turn the meat at least twice during the cooking process. It is very important to keep the baking dish tightly covered with aluminum foil to have a moistened meat. If you see that it’s getting dry, add more of the adobo sauce. The cooking time will depend on the pork leg’s size and weight. The average baking time is 1 hour of baking for every 2 Lbs. of meat.
10. When the meat can easily be pierced by a fork then it’s almost done. It will take about 5 hours. I like to have a moist, almost falling-apart meat. when you see that the meat is done, uncover and turn the oven temperature up to 450F. Roast for about 8-10 minutes to have browned meat. Make sure you don’t burn it. It will take just a few minutes. Remove meat and let stand about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
11. Place leftover juices from the baking pan and the remaining adobo sauce in a medium size skillet and simmer for about 8 minutes. Taste, add more salt if needed and add more of the spices used for the marinade if you wish to. Use this sauce to pour over the slices of meat when serving.