Washington cook Rossana Aspite Grimm knows that this Venezuelan dish is traditionally made with beef. But she prefers to use pork, rubbed with a flavorful paste, then slow-roasted. She starts with a large shoulder; once the meat is shredded, she reserves half for another use (such as arepas; see related recipe). The remaining half is added to a cooked, well-seasoned vegetable mixture.
This will create 10 servings. Or you can use all of the shredded pork and double the sofrito recipe below to make 20 servings. Either way, it's good food for a party.
Besides the usual accompaniments of black beans and fried plantains, Grimm makes a white rice that is flavored with onion and bell pepper (see related recipe).
Make Ahead: The sofrito mixture can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated. Reheat, then add the pork and cook as directed.
Servings: 10 - 20
- For the pork
- 1 head garlic, roasted (see NOTE)
- 1/2 cup dried oregano
- 1/2 cup dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- One 7-pound pork shoulder (skin removed as needed)
- For the sofrito
- Pan drippings from the roast pork (see above)
- 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 5 teaspoons)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 heaping tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 heaping tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes, preferably Cento brand, coarsely chopped plus their juices (may substitute 4 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped)
- 1/2 to 1 cup Spanish olives (optional)
- 1/4 to 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, as needed (optional)
For the pork: Preheat the oven to 240 degrees. Have a roasting pan at hand.
For the pork: Squeeze the cloves of roasted garlic into a medium bowl, then add the oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Gradually add just enough oil to create a loose paste (1/4 to 1/3 cup).
Place the pork shoulder in the roasting pan, then rub the paste all over the meat, gently pressing it into the surface. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and slow-roast for 5 to 6 hours, until the meat is easily pierced with a fork and quite fragrant.
Uncover; transfer the meat to a cutting board, reserving the pan drippings. Use 2 forks to shred the meat. At this point, half of the meat can be cooled and refrigerated or frozen to use as filling for arepas (see related recipe).
For the sofrito: Transfer 3 or 4 tablespoons of the roast pork pan drippings to a large skillet and heat over medium heat.
Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce to taste, oregano, thyme, cumin, cayenne pepper to taste, and salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, and the olives, if using (to taste). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture seems dry, add broth as needed. The yield should be about 5 cups; reserve 1 cup for the accompanying black beans (see headnote) or another use.
Add the remaining half of the shredded roast pork (about 2 1/2 cups) and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The meat will pick up some color, and the bell pepper should become tender. If the mixture seems dry, add a little chicken broth and stir to incorporate.
Transfer to a large serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
NOTE: To roast garlic, lop off the top of a head of garlic so that its cloves are exposed a bit. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil, then roast for about 40 minutes in a 400-degree oven.
From Washington cook Rossana Aspite Grimm.
Tested by Rossana Aspite Grimm and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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