Cuban Mojo Pork has never been easier, thanks to this tenderloin recipe! It’s a delicious and easy pork tenderloin recipe made with freshly squeezed orange and lime juices, crushed garlic, minced cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Serve this up in Cuban Sandwiches or plain with a side of rice!
Cuban Mojo Pork is a tasty and easy family favorite. Most of the prep work is in the marinade, which yields deliciously vibrant flavors of citrus, cilantro, and spices.
Marinades allow you to take tough cheap cuts of meat and with a little time and the help of an acid or two break them down making them more tender and imparting a whole bunch of flavor.
However, there is no rule that says you can’t use the same idea for a choice cut as well. We actually prefer to make Mojo Pork with pork tenderloin.
What is Cuban Mojo Pork?
Mojo Pork is an essential ingredient in a Cuban sandwich and a darn tasty meal all by itself. Traditionally it is made with pork shoulder, and the marinade is a mix of citrus, garlic, and cilantro. In this case, I’ve used pork tenderloin for a couple of different reasons.
The first is scale. When I get in the mood for a good Cuban sandwich, I don’t want to have to deal with a whole pork shoulder.
I mean, seriously, a roast is great, but I’m not letting my weird Saturday afternoon craving determine what I’m eating for the next week and a half. Buying a section of pork tenderloin gets me to the same flavor place without the waste.
Second, and more important, is time. To really get a pork shoulder right, it needs to set overnight, if not longer.
With tenderloin, I can have a ridiculous craving in the morning and be eating that night. A smaller cut of meat means a greater surface area for all that citric acid and sugar to work their magic on. It also means less depth it has to penetrate until the meat is saturated.
Finally, I can also eat it with a fork and knife. While I love this combo for use on a Cubano, it eats just fine as an entree too.
In fact, I’m not above high roading people, calling this Citrus Tenderloin, serving it with some pan-fried asparagus, and keeping the leftovers for my sandwich the next day.
How Do You Make Mojo Marinade?
To make a quick and dirty Mojo marinade, first juice two oranges and eight limes into a bowl.
Then peel and crush a whole bulb of garlic. To do this super quick, just put the bulb on a cutting board, place the heel of your hand on top, and rock forward, putting your weight down on it. This should separate the bulb into individual cloves.
Then place the flat of a knife over each clove individually and press down again (more gently this time). The peel should come away easily from the clove, and the garlic should be a little crushed. Add the garlic to the bowl along with a quarter cup of freshly chopped cilantro.
Finally, whisk in your cumin, salt, pepper, and olive oil and transfer the marinade to a gallon-sized bag. I like using my Baggy Rack to do this, especially when I’m preparing it alone and need an extra set of hands to avoid making a mess!
Now some of you Mojo aficionados may call into question my small dose of cilantro here. That’s fair.
If you really dig the aromatic power of cilantro, you can go right ahead and double or triple the dose; no one’s going to call the herb police on you.
However for me, this is one area where I like to show restraint. We’re already working with a good piece of meat, and I want the citrus and sour notes to be the accompanying flavor and I find that a little cilantro goes a long way.
Either way, the end result will be a piece of tender, juicy, and flavorful pork loin!
How Do You Cook It?
After you’ve made your marinade pour it into a plastic bag and add your tenderloin, set aside in the fridge for six hours (overnight if you can, but 6 hours will get you 90% of the way there).
Once the meat is done marinating, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and grab a cast iron pan, add a few ounces of vegetable oil, and proceed to bring it up to medium-high heat on your stovetop.
Take your tenderloin and place it in your hot pan allowing it 60 seconds or so on a side before giving it a quarter turn. After the third turn, remove from the heat and slide in your probe thermometer (more about that later).
Set the thermometer to 145 degrees F and move the whole pan to the oven. It should take about an hour to reach the desired temp. Once done, remove from the pan and allow to rest 15 minutes before cutting.
Back to the thermometer. If you don’t have ready access to a wired probe thermometer with a magnetic back — correct that situation. They are pretty reasonable as far as price goes, and they are irreplaceable in the kitchen.
It takes all the pressure of cooking large pieces of meat, and it literally lets you know exactly when to stop cooking it.
Without one, you’re playing a dangerous game of undercooked meat that loses all its juices when you cut it open the first time and dried-out roasts that should have been pulled thirty minutes earlier.
More Delicious Meat Recipes:
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Cuban Mojo Pork Tenderloin
- Juice two of the oranges and all of the limes into a bowl. Whisk in ½ cup of olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the garlic and cilantro.8 limes, 2 oranges, 1 bulb garlic, 1 tablespoons ground cumin, ½ tablespoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, ¾ cup olive oil, ¼ cup cilantro1
- Pour the marinade into a plastic bag and add the sliced oranges and tenderloin. Set aside in the fridge for six hours, (overnight if you can, but 6 hours will get you 90% of the way there).1 orange, 1½ lbs pork tenderloin
- Once the meat is done marinating, preheat your oven to 350°F, add the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil to a cast-iron pan, and heat over medium-high heat on the stovetop.¾ cup olive oil
- Take your tenderloin and place it in your hot pan allowing it 60 seconds or so on a side before giving it a quarter turn. After the third turn remove from heat and slide in your probe thermometer2.
- Set the thermometer to 145°F and move the whole pan to the oven. It should take about an hour to reach the desired temp. Once done remove from the pan and allow to rest 15 minutes before cutting.
- If you really dig the aromatic power of cilantro, you can go right ahead and double or triple the dose, no one’s going to call the herb police on you.
- If you don’t have ready access to a wired probe thermometer with a magnetic back — correct that situation. It takes all the pressure of cooking large pieces of meat and it literally lets you know exactly when to stop cooking it.