Cuban Lechon Asado

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cuban Lechon Asado
Story and Photos by William Mabie

Watching Joaquin “Quino” Toranzo at work in his kitchen is like watching master artists at work in their studio. The soft crooning of Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra coming from his stereo mixes in the air with the fragrant aromas emanating from the pork shoulder he prepares.

He works in tempo with the music as he sings along in his own smooth baritone voice. Grinding away with the pepper dispenser, he holds it up with his arm outstretched as he sustains a note in the musical standard “Beyond the Sea.” One can tell that here in the kitchen, Quino is truly in his element.

A senior at St. Mary’s studying political science, international relations and English literature, along with holding the prestigious title of student body president, Quino embodies the spirit of this university.

Outgoing but modest, his body language projects his carefree nature, but he takes his responsibilities serious. To him family is paramount, and part of the reason he found himself attending St. Mary’s is just for that reason.

“My cousin told me of the honors program as I was nearing graduation, so I applied and was accepted,” he says as he chops cloves of garlic. “I had visited the campus before when Mike Huckabee and Hilary Clinton were holding their political rallies here, and I thought it was interesting that of all the places in San Antonio that they could have held them, they both chose this school.”

With another graduation on the horizon, Quino has his sights set on earning his MBA, with the possibility of a doctorate in political science, and beyond that maybe even law school. Eventually, He hopes to become an entrepreneur with ties to the service industry, where his eclectic style can blossom into an illustrious career.

As he rubs the seasoning into the pork shoulder, one can really get a sense of Quino’s love of his labor.

When asked about his favorite foods, Quino lets out a laugh and wonders out loud, “Where to begin?” He says his guilty pleasure is macaroni and cheese, but if he had to pick a meal as his favorite, he’d take a rare, juicy filet mignon with a loaded potato on the side, either baked, mashed, or scalloped.

“This recipe is a personal favorite of mine,” he says as he prepares the dish for the oven. “My mother learned it from my paternal grandfather, which in turn was handed down to me. I’ve altered the ingredients over time to suit my own tastes, but only a little.”

The advice he gives about the recipe is simple: patience. “Cooking this can take a long time when done right. You need to let the meat soak up the juices over night for the full flavor to come alive.”

Hours later, as the oven timer goes off and the meal is finally ready, the smell is the first thing that hits you.

The first word that comes to mind is ‘heaven,’ but it’s not until you take that first bite that the true sense of the word sinks in.


  • 15 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 4 T. Comino
  • 4 T. salt
  • 2 T. pepper
  • 2 whole garlic
  • 1/2 liter Mojo Agrio
  • 1/2 liter Naranja Agria
  • 1 stick butter

Spread the pork shoulder on a 15″x18″ baking tray with at least a 2″ rim. Make “x” shaped incisions in the shoulder in a grid pattern, leaving 1.5″ between each incision. With a baster, inject a cocktail of Mojo Agrio and Naranja Agria into each incision, leaving enough to repeat this process later. Now, peel your garlic cloves and cut them into four wedges. Insert wedges of garlic into the incisions until you exhaust both heads of garlic. After the pork has received the vampire-slayer treatment, repeat the basting with the Mojo and Naranja Agria cocktail, this time allowing the cocktail to be poured on the whole of the shoulder. Now spread the salt, pepper, and comino on the shoulder and rub it into the incisions. Before refrigerating, cover the tray with aluminum foil.

Refrigerate the pork shoulder overnight to allow for proper marinating. When you are ready to cook the pork, preheat your oven to 375* F, and pull back the aluminum foil. Now pour the olive oil over the shoulder and cover the tray with the foil again. Let the shoulder cook for two hours before flipping the shoulder over, pouring the pork’s own juices over it every half hour. Allow the shoulder to cook another two hours at 375* on its other side, still pouring it’s juices over it and into the incisions every half hour or so.

Now that the shoulder is basically fully cooked, remove the foil and raise your oven’s temperature to 475*, making sure the pork skin is exposed to allow it to crisp. When the skin starts to brown, remove the pork from the oven. Allow time to cool, and enjoy!

One Response

  1. […] Cuban Lechon Asado ( […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: