In the Dominican Republic, where I am from, it is not a true holiday season without cerdo asado and puerco en la puya, which means roasted pork and pork on a stick. Yes, juicy and tender pork meat with a crispy skin is a staple in the Dominican holiday table. But even though I grew up eating it year after year, I do not recall seeing my mother or anyone ever making it at home because cooking a whole pig to perfection is something left to the experts and the hundreds of vendors selling it this time of the year.
Now that I live outside of the Dominican Republic I’ve had to become the expert myself and while I’ve never attempted to cook a whole pig, I do have vast experience cooking pork. I’ve tried countless cooking tips and tricks in search of that perfect recipe in order to achieve the desired juicy and crispy meat texture that makes a Dominican roasted pork so special.
Today I am sharing with you those tips plus a pineapple rice recipe to stuff the pork and impress your family and friends with this gorgeous dish.
First tip: lots of flavor from fruits and liquids.
For this recipe I chose Dole Canned Pineapple Chunks as the sweet tangy flavor of the Dole all natural fruit and syrup pairs incredibly well with pork. The fruit also serves as a garnish and the syrup helps steam the pork while it cooks covered.
I also used Dole pineapple for the stuffing, but chose the Dole Canned Pineapple Tidbits in this case, as the size is more suitable for stuffing.
Second tip: use a cut of pork that has a good layer of fat and skin.
The fat will render in the cooking process making the meat more juicy and having skin on will allow you to get the crispy crackling.
Third tip: if stuffing the pork use cooking twine to hold the meat together.
As you can see above I initially closed the roulade with wooden sticks but finished holding the meat with cooking twine as the sticks are not strong enough to keep the meat together. I just used the sticks to help myself as I wrapped the meat, but the cooking twine will suffice on its own.
Once it comes out of the oven, cut into medallions and keep the pineapple as it will absorb the juices from the pork and it will be incredibly delicious.
- ---->For the stuffing
- 1 can (20 ounces) Dole Pineapple Tidbits, drained
- 1 tablespoon, vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cup red onions, chopped
- 1 ½ cup celery, chopped
- 1 ½ cup Dole raisins
- 1 ½ cup walnuts, pecans or almonds (it can be a mix or your choice), chopped
- 3 cups cooked rice
- Salt, to taste
- ---->For the meat
- 1 can (20 ounces) Dole Pineapple Chunks
- 1 slab of pork belly (about 6 pounds)
- Salt, to taste
- Ground oregano, to taste
- Garlic powder, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and cook the onion and celery until translucent.
- Add pineapples and keep cooking for a couple of minutes to help remove some of the fruit moisture.
- Add raisins, nuts and cooked rice.
- Stir well to combine all ingredients. Set the filling aside.
- Place the pineapple chunks and syrup in a baking pan.
- Season the meat side of the pork belly with a generous but single layer of salt, ground oregano, garlic powder and black pepper. Feel free to season liberally and control the exact amount to taste.
- Season the skin side entirely with a single layer of just salt.
- Stuff the meat by placing the stuffing in one end of the meat side up, and roll the meat until both ends meet.
- Tie the roulade together with cooking twine.
- Place roulade, cut side down, in the baking pan with pineapple chunks and syrup.
- If you have a rack that can hold the meat in the pan that will be best as it will help get the bottom of the roulade crispy as well.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for two hours.
- Uncover and bake for an additional hour.
- Depending on the thickness of the fat and skin of your meat you may want to place the roulade under the broiler for a few additional minutes to find the right crispy consistency you desire.
- Once ready and out of the oven, let the meat rest 15 minutes before serving and cutting it.