It’s a New Year! Hallelujah.

2011 was an interesting year to say the least. So many ups and downs: the birth of my beautiful niece, fun times traveling (Orlando, Atlanta, and New Orleans) and growing this lil old blog, an incredibly frustrating trying to conceive (ttc) journey, the excitement of my first pregnancy, followed by the devastating loss of our baby, then more ttc frustration and seeing seemingly everyone around me get pregnant, then to round out the year an exciting new job for the hubs – talk about an emotional roller coaster!

Though the year was filled with heartache & a lot of tears (and of course the subsequent added pounds that came along with it hah), we are also able to look back and see the many blessings and provisions over the course of the last 365 days. However, I couldn’t be happier that 2012 is here. It’s a new year. A fresh start. Hopefully a better year…

We started the new year out with one incredible meal… hopefully setting the tone for 2012

The hubs’ is a Georgia boy with deeply southern family roots. Each New Year, you MUST eat pork, collard greens, and black eyed peas. It’s a MUST. Oh, and you can’t do laundry (one tradition I am HAPPY to oblige) hah. Now, I technically grew up farther south than the hubs (geographically speaking), but South East Florida isn’t exactly “southern”. We are more of an ecclectic melting pot with a lot of spanish influence.

So this New Year’s meal, was a mix of my upbringing and a mix of the hubs’ upbringing! Southern meets Cuban inspired New Years: Lechon with Mojito sauce (topped with fresh onion and a squeeze of lime juice), pressed cuban bread, collard greens, black beans and rice {don’t worry Grandma, I made the black eyed peas too for Mike! }, and sweet PLANTAINS (my fav!).

Before our Christmas/New Year’s break, I talked to my Cuban co-worker (shout-out to Nancita!) about making lechon & authentic mojito sauce and she gave me all the tips and pointers I needed before I got started (thank you!!!).

Let, me tell you… this meal turned out IN.CRED.IBLE. The pork was so tender and flavorful. And the sauce?! Oh my goodness… THE SAUCE. I. could. literally. drink. it. Garlicky/Oniony, limey, AMAZING. This meal will be my standard New Year’s Day meal from here on out! It was out of this world good!

I’m typically not a big pork person (other than bacon – I looovvve me some bacon), but this lechon makes me want to eat pork every day. Need a new take on pork!? MAKE THIS ASAP. Have a taste of Cuba in your kitchen – it’s AMAZING!!!!!

Oh, and if you missed them:

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Crockpot Lechon (Pulled Pork) with Cuban Mojito Sauce

Yield: 10 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours + 5 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes

Tender, fall off the bone, Cuban style pulled pork! Marinade the meat the night before if possible, but if you can't, that's okay too!

Ingredients:

For the Lechon:
5 - 5 1/2 lb pork butt
1 onion, peeled and quartered
6 cloves garlic
1 cup mojo sauce (found in the marinade aisle - I used Publix, but I also recommend Badia brand)
2 limes, juiced
salt & pepper

For the Mojito Sauce:
1/2 onion (about 3/4 cup), minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 limes, juiced
3/4 cups canola oil
salt & pepper

limes
onion

Directions:

For the Lechon:
Poke holes all over the pork using a small paring knife. Place the pork into a large gallon sized ziplock bag. In a food processor, add the onion and garlic and pulse until minced. Add the mojo sauce, lime juice, and a large pinch of salt and pepper, and process until well combined. Pour mixture over the pork in the ziplock bag. Press air out as best you can, and seal. Marinade for a few hours (preferably the night before, if possible).

Spray the bowl of a large Crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Place pork butt (fat side up) in the Crockpot, and pour entire contents of the bag over it. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 8 hours (you can let it go longer if you are at work or out and about - this stuff will not dry out!). When ready to eat, carefully pull pork out of the liquid (it will fall apart) and place on a cutting board. Remove extra fatty pieces and shred the pork with 2 forks (it will basically shred itself it's so tender!). Place on a large serving platter and garnish with lime wedges. Serve with additional chopped onions, lime wedges, and mojito sauce (instructions below).

For the Mojito Sauce:
Add minced onion and minced garlic to a heat proof bowl. Heat canola oil in a pan until bubbly hot (put the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil and when it bubbles around it, it's ready!). Carefully pour hot oil over the onions and garlic a little at a time (stirring in between). You should hear it sizzle as it cooks the raw garlic and onions, and it will smell AMAZING!!! Last, squeeze the juice of 2-3 limes and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well and serve warm over lechon (make sure each person stirs well before spooning it over their lechon - it separates as it sits)!