A Cuban Grand Slam, Part III

A sauce can make or break a dish.

Add the right sauce and you'll be asking for bread to sop it up so you can be a proud member of the Clean Plate Club. By the way, chefs and dishwashers love that, even the at-home chefs and dishwashers! But a bad sauce can ruin an entree.

In my humble opinion, most sauces have way too much butter and salt. So finding a sauce that is loaded with flavor but not fat and sodium can be challenging, if down right impossible, because isn't that what makes a great sauce?

While planning for our dinner, which is part of the Cuban Grand Slam blog series, we were combing our collection of cookbooks to tweak the roasted pork recipe. We stumbled upon a recipe for the classic Cuban mojo sauce which was a tiny bit healthier than most because it eliminated some of the oil and replaced it with vegetable stock. This recipe is featured in Steven Raichlin's 1998 Healthy Latin Cooking cookbook.

In case you don't know about the PBS cooking shows on Saturday afternoons, you know about it now. We really like most of the shows and Steve Raichlin has one as well. Even though his monotone approach can often times put me to sleep, he is an international grill master and has been at this for decades. Every recipe we've ever tried of his has been a winner (I especially love this salad) and his mojo is no different.

This all-purpose sauce uses a combination of bitter orange marinade (pictured below, which we purchased at our neighborhood grocery store), cumin, oregano along with copious amounts of garlic and a little olive oil. It added the right amount of spark to our fall-apart, roasted pork. We also marinated the roasted pork in the same bitter orange marinade, so the flavor was carried throughout, and it was sublime.

This intoxicating and healthy mojo is so phenomenal, it can be used on nearly anything. We've since generously spooned it over our strawberry grouper and David even used it to accompany his fried chicken last night. And I just know it will jazz up shrimp.

Add this sauce to your meat and you'll have tons of flavor without tons of guilt.

Viva Cuba y buen provecho!

The Cowgirl Gourmet (www.thecowgirlgourmet.blogspot.com) got this recipe from Steven Raichlen's Healthy Latin Cooking cookbook

Print recipe

Mojo (pronounced mo-ho) is what Cubans put on everything. And once you taste this sauce, you'll see why. We have now served it over roasted pork, fish and even fried chicken and I can't wait to use it with shrimp. This recipe is a "light" version, but I promise it's so full of flavor you'll never miss the fat.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup bitter orange marinade (or instead you can use a combination of 1/2 cup lime juice and 1/4 cup orange juice)
1/2 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth or a homemade vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until fragrant and pale golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bitter orange juice (or lime and orange juice combo), vegetable broth or stock, cumin, oregano and pepper.

Return the pan to the stove and bring the sauce to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 3 minutes or until the flavor has mellowed. Season with salt. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Stir in the cilantro and heat again right before serving. Store in a glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator for up to a week. Shake well before using. Be sure and heat the leftover sauce up again before using.

Mojo sauce over roasted Cuban pork

Mojo sauce over sauteed strawberry grouper

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