Lechon Asado is a Cuban dish traditionally made from a whole roasted young (suckling) pig. I was lucky enough to get to experience the real deal at a Cuban restaurant in Miami where they had the whole pig perfectly roasted and on display in the center of the dining room. The skin was browned and crispy while the meat was utterly tender and juicy. Oof. That's one of my favorite food memories from living there!
Not everyone does it this way, though, and I used to frequently get lechon asado from one of the three Cuban joints down the street from my condo on the beach all the time - they would use the whole shoulder or ham.
Oven roasting is great, but can be time-consuming. The good news is that you can still get that distinctive Latin flavor and the best tasting pork you've ever eaten without all that work - just use your slow cooker or even an Instant Pot with a pork roast. They key is the overnight marinade in mojo criollo sauce.
Like vaca frita, lechon asado takes 2 days from start to finish. Trust me: you don't want to try to rush this and skip the overnight marinade. The flavor just won't turn out right.
This recipe is so crazy easy - perfect for busy weeknight meals. It's great to make a big batch to eat from for days OR freeze for later. I use these jars with these reusable lids to freeze my meat meals when I am in batch cooking mode. It is the perfect setup for days when I fail to plan my food ahead - I can quickly thaw the jar of meat in a bowl of warm water for a healthy last-minute meal.
Be sure to read my notes on preparing the mojo criollo sauce - I recommend increasing the amount of garlic used to a full head for this recipe.
I hope you enjoy this easy and delicious Cuban pork roast - it's a great option when you are on the autoimmune paleo protocol (AIP)!
Paleo Lechon Asado (AIP, slow cooker, Instant Pot)
Lechon asado is a traditional Cuban dish. It's usually made from a whole roasted suckling pig, but you can get the same flavor from a roast in your slow cooker or Instant Pot! This easy recipe is perfect for busy cooks. Bonus - it's AIP compliant.
- 4-6 lb pork roast (Boston butt works well)
- 1 to 1.5 cups mojo criollo marinade (without oil)
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp lard or olive oil (for Instant Pot method)
- Make the mojo criollo marinade - see notes in that recipe for substitutions for sour orange juice if you can't find them locally. I also recommend doubling the garlic and using a whole head (which is usually around 12-15 cloves).
- Use a knife to pierce holes on all sides of the roast to help the marinade penetrate.
- Place roast in a large bag with an air-tight seal (like Ziploc) and pour in marinade and sliced onion. Remove as much air as possible from the bag as you seal it and massage the bag to cover the roast with the marinade. Let sit overnight in the fridge.
- If using a slow cooker, pour in marinade, onions, and roast and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until it is falling apart tender.
- If using an Instant Pot, cut the roast into 2-4 smaller pieces. Press "saute" to preheat the cooker. When it says "hot", add fat to the bottom of the pot and brown all sides of each piece of meat, working in batches if necessary. Turn the IP off when done.
- Add roast, marinade, and onion to the pot and then press "manual". Make sure "high pressure" is selected and then use the + button to increase the time to 90 minutes for a 4 lb roast - I used 110 for 8 lbs and I felt like 120 would've been perfect for that much meat.
- When the roast finishes, allow the pressure to release naturally, which takes about 20-30 minutes. The meat will be falling apart tender.
- For either method: when roast is done, remove, shred with 2 forks, and mix with some of the liquid that cooked out to keep it nice and juicy and flavorful. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!
- Save the extra cooking juices for braising greens - YUM! You can also salvage a good amount of fat from the cooking liquid by putting it in a bowl and setting in the fridge overnight. It will separate to the top and you can lift it off and cook with it.
- To reheat leftovers, heat lard, bacon fat, or saved fat from the cooking liquid in a frying pan and add shredded meat. You can also add in some fresh sliced onion. Fry for several minutes until heated through. You can also cook until it gets crispy like vaca frita (so good!)
Here's what I use in my kitchen when I cook this dish:
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