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adobo mojado barbecue - from puerto rico

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Joined: 25 January 2010
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    Posted: 16 May 2011 at 14:33
alright, folks - i did an experiment this weekend using adobo mojado on a pork shoulder. i got started on the project and ran into a few snags - i was able to compensate for them without compromising the results - so, due to those circumstances there are no pix, but it definitely happened and it was good.
 
wiki gives us the low-down on puerto rican adobo mojado:
 
Quote Puerto Rican-style adobo is a seasoned salt that is generously sprinkled or rubbed on meats and seafood prior to grilling, sauteing, or frying. Supermarkets sell prepared blends like that produced by Goya Foods. There are two types of adobo on the island. One is a wet rub called adobo mojado. It consists of crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, black pepper, dry or fresh orégano brujo, citrus juice or vinegar or a mix of both citrus and vinegar. More widely used on the island is a dry mix, adobo seco. It is easier to prepare and has a long shelf life. Adobo seco consists of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, dry orégano brujo, and sometimes dried citrus zest.
 
the caribbean islands can be considered the birthplace of barbecue. the first european explorers observed the native carib and arawak indians roasting meat on a grated platform over hardwood coals - sound familiar?
 
as for adobo mojado itself, here's what daisy martinez has to say about it on pork (creating a meal called pernil:
 
Quote If you were to ask me, “What does Christmas smell like?” I wouldn’t say “pine” or “fresh snow,” I would say, “Pernil.” By the time my kids finish their cereal on Christmas Eve morning, the house is filled with the wonderful aroma of roast pork.

You want the shoulder, not the butt, for this, and you definitely want the skin on. If you have the opportunity to marinate the roast for three days, two days, or even overnight, you’ll be rewarded with a roast that has juicy, fragrant, tender meat and crispy, salty, mahogany-colored skin. It’s so good, I’m almost afraid I have to bring it up in confession!

 

here's the recipe for the adobo mojado (from daisy martinez) for the sake of convenience:
 
Quote Mojo Adobo
 
Ingredients

12 cloves garlic, peeled
1½ tablespoons fine sea or kosher salt (see Notes)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Directions

Pound the garlic cloves and salt to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Add the peppercorns and oregano, pounding well after each one to incorporate them into the paste. Stir in the oil and vinegar.
 
i didn't have a mortor and pestle, so i used a food processor - this worked just as well, except i actually used whole peppercorns instead of grindng them - the food processor didn't like this and 99.98% of the peppercorns remained whole no matter how much i tried to "process" them. not having a grinder, i just spread the adobo mojado on the pork shoulder, then picked off the peppercorns before i put the meat in the pit. based on this, i'll be sure to use ground pepper or have a grinder handy next time.
i got to thinking that lime juice would make a perfectly good substitute for the white wine vinegar, and will probably use it (or possibly lemon juice - or both) next time to lend it more of a caribbean flair.
 
anyway, as i said above, i spread the adobo mojado all over the pork shoulder on friday night, and then put it in the fridge in order to marry with the flavours. 
 
saturday evening, i got everything ready with the pit, using hardwod lump charcoal and hickory chunks. while the pit was coming up to temperature, i took the pork shoulder out and picked off all the peppercorns. my youngest son helped me with this, so it only took a few minutes, and we managed to keep nearly all the adobo mojado on the pork. i then applied some strawberry's barbecue seasoning (this stuff is REALLY good, and no, it doesn't contain strawberries!) as a rub - i don't think this was necessary, as the adobo mojado made a great wet/paste rub, and therefore i won't do it next time - but at the same time, it didn't really hurt anything, either.
 
the pit came to temperature, and at exactly midnight, i put the meat on the grate, with the fat-cap side DOWN. i checked the pit temperatures every 15 minutes, adding a handful of lump or a hickory chunk as necessary - other than that, i left it alone for 4 hours, then flipped and rotated it, so that the fat cap could start melting and basting the meat. since the adobo mojado contained olive oil, i saw no need to mop the meat at any time during the process, as it always seemed to maintain a good deal of outside moisture - even moreso when the fats started melting and it started to self-baste.
 
when i heat up a pit, i get it to 300 degrees in order to eliminate any chance of creosote due to mositure. the act of opening the pit and puttng in a cold, 9.5-pound hunk of meat seems to bring the temerpatures right down to where i want them, and for most of the night, the pit ran at a pretty steady 242 degrees, occasionally going as much as 10 degrees higher or lower - no worries - perfect cooking.
 
along about 6am, we started to get some wind, and up here in northern montana at this time of year, the wind can still be pretty cold. normally, this isn't much or a problem, as i keep the pit in front of the house and out of the prevailing winds, which are from the west, northwest and southwest 99% of the time. today, however, mother nature decided to be mean to me, and brought the wind full-on from the east. this started to affect temperatures in a drastic way, so after an hour or so, we tried moving the pit around to the back. this is no joke with a hot pit and a huge chunk of pig cooking inside it - ours had wheels at one end, which helped a lot, but it was still very top heavy, and we almost lost it all a couple of  times ~
 
we finally got situated around the back of the house, but the winds kept licking around and hit us anyway - later found out that the wind was around 40mph with gusts to 60. for a few hours, i tried keeping temps up, but it was a losing battle and i eventually ran out of charcoal. at about noon, after 12 hours on the smoker, i gave up the fight, wrapped the shoulder tightly in heavy-duty foil with half a can of dr. pepper, put the foiled shoulder in the dutch oven, and put the dutch oven in the conventional oven at 250 degrees.
 
i never check internal temperatures until i suspect the meat is very close to done - and on this day, i wasn't able to check them at all. my new kenmore digital probe thermometer, which had worked very well most of the day for cooking temperatures, had some sort of failure right about the time i wanted to start checking internal temps. no big deal, i simply kept the shoulder in the dutch oven until 4pm, when a knife went through the thickest portions of the shoudler with no resistance. as final confirmation that we were done, i twisted the bone, which turned cleanly and easily with absolutely no resistance. we're done!
 
i had planned on spritzing the pork shoulder occasionally with orange juice, to give it a boost of some caribbean citrus, but the kids drank it before i could!
 
i let it rest, in the foil, for 30 minutes, then we removed the fat cap and shredded the shoulder while i de-fatted the natural juices and the dog gnawed happily on the bone (i was going to save it for stock, but the kids gave it to her before i could). i poured the juice all over the pulled pork, mixed everything around, and then then heated the pulled pork in a dutch oven on the stove top for a few minutes until only a little bit of juice oozed onto a wooden spoon when pressed down into the meat. then i served the barebecue in the dutch oven next to a big bowl of potato salad, giving diners the option of bun or no bun, and a couple-three commercial sauces. normally, i make a very good eastern carolina finishing sauce for pulled pork, but not this time. 
 
reception was very good - my wife, who is usually not a fan of smoked barbecue said it was very good, except it was a bit salty. this, i am sure, is mostly due to the dry barbecue seasoning i put on top of the adobo mojado - looking back, this wasn't necessary, so i most likely won't do it next time. the adobo mojado stands very well on its own, producing a wonderful, savory pulled pork barbecue, with or without sauce. i kept the smoke "thin and blue," and the sweet hickory infused itself wonderfully in the meat, filling in any empty spaces and adding a wonderful smokey tang to the whole meal. considering the recipe, one might be worried about all that garlic, but i can say ithout a doubt that the taste was definitely not too garlicky - it smelled savory as the shoulder marinated, and and as it cooked the garlic took a nice, sweet taste, balancing the other flavours.
 
some other notes and conclusions:
 
the bark on the shoulder was savory and....barky - it worked perfectly when mixed with the pulled pork - normally i slather with mustard before applying a rub, but in this case i didn't have to as the adobo mojado became the slather and the bark. there was some over-carmelization due to the super-long cooking time (like you would see with a rub that has sugar) but it did not affect taste a single bit - just appearance.
 
i think next time, i might try injecting the adobo mojado, even though i am not a guy who usually injects. if so, i'll simply use ground pepper to avoid the pitfalls i had this time - the injection idea is soley for the purpose of keeping it from getting over-carmelized on long, long barbecues (this one was a little over 16 hours). a person could slather it on, like i did - but injecting might keep it from looking like a black lava rock. even if this happens, it still tastes great as the flavour isn't affected, it's just an appearance thing. actually, when the bark is all mixed in with the pulled pork, even the appearance doesn't matter too much because the colorations from the smoke ring will look good with the dark bark!
 
my #3 son bill had a friend over, and my parents also dropped by and had some as well. all enjoyed it very much and there were no leftovers out of a 9.5-pound shoulder, so i count that as a success.
 
unfortunately, no pix ~ but it did happen!
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Melissa Mead View Drop Down
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Joined: 17 July 2010
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Mead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2011 at 16:30
Mmmm....

A couple of weeks ago, while my husband was resting from surgery and his visitors went in search of food, my dad took me to a Dominican restaurant. I got mofongo and a pernil sandwich. MAN, that's good pork!
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