This "mojo" sauce has nothing to do with the word for magic touch, but you could have fooled me: this is one of the most delicious marinades I've had in ages. The recipe comes from Our Latin Table, and describes mojo sauce paired with pork as what Cubans are weaned on and live for. It "might possibly have all the ingredients that make up Cuban cookery," which isn't surprising. The marinade is simply olive oil, garlic, oregano, cumin, and citrus, yet it's far more than the sum of its parts. This stuff tastes good enough to build an entire cuisine on.
It also did wonders for the juiciness of thick cut pork chops, though it may have helped that I also brined them beforehand. But I'm convinced that the acidity of the citrus—traditionally made from sour Cuban oranges, but in this case with a combination of orange and lime juice—makes its way into the chop and tenderizes. Though it wasn't quite warm enough outside to go through the trouble of lighting coals when I made this, it did fine on a very hot cast iron skillet. As soon as summer gets here, I'm keeping some of this marinade very close at hand—it will go fine with that one other Cuban ingredient that mojo doesn't have: rum. Is it warm enough for mojitos yet?
- 2 thick-cut pork chops, preferable bone-in, about 1 pound total
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of 1 juicing orange
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a small food processor or blender, puree the garlic, oregano, olive oil, lime juice, cumin, pinch of salt and pepper, and all but 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, and reserve a couple tablespoons of the mojo sauce (for spreading on the chops post-cooking).
In a non-reactive bowl, whisk the mojo sauce with the remaining orange juice. Add the pork chops, cover with plastic, and marinate in the liquid for as long as you can bear, at least 20 minutes, even better, two hours. Turn occasionally.
Heat a cast iron skillet with a film of oil, or a grill pan, until very hot. Cook the chops to desired doneness, 5-7 minutes per side for medium.
Spoon reserved mojo over the chops and serve.