Instant Pot Cuban Pork with Homemade Mojo (Pernil Asado)

My previous recipe for Instant Pot 3 – Ingredient Cuban Pork has gotten rave reviews from those who have tried it. My intention was to share a very traditional recipe, but make it as quick and simple as possible without loosing the traditional flavors and authenticity of the dish. However, as I said in the previous recipe, typically Cubans make their own Mojo when marinading a lechon (whole pig) or dipping mariguitas (thinly sliced and fried green plantains….bet you read margaritas, hehe.) so I wanted to share my family’s homemade Mojo recipe that can be used in lue of the Goya bottled Mojo. Short of opening a bottle, this recipe is easy and quick and can be used to marinade everything from chicken, pork, and steaks as well as a dipping sauce or condiment. It’s the key to Cuban flavor and this recipe can easily be doubled and save half in the fridge for later use.

***Important Note***

Cuban Mojo uses Sour Oranges as the base liquid for the marinade. However, if you cannot find this in your markets you can use a 2 to 1 ratio of fresh squeezed Oranges to Limes.

Instant Pot Cuban Pork with Homemade Mojo(Pernil Asado) 

Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez and Mojo recipe adapted from Santiago Perez

  • 3+ lb Pork Shoulder, Picnic Shoulder, Boston Butt, or Picnic Half, cut into 3-4 inch large chunks (I prefer to use skin on and bone-in even though I remove both the bone and skin. I find them cheaper and more tender. However, you can use boneless to make it easier. Also, because you are cutting the roast into 3-4 inch large chunks, you can buy as small or as large a roast as you want.)
  • 1 Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 3 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Water

     Ingredients for Mojo Sauce/Marinade

  • 1 1/2 cup juice from Sour Oranges, approx. 6 oranges (Naranja Agria) (aka Sour Orange, Seville Orange, or Bitter Orange. You can use the Goya brand Naranja Agria in a bottle)


  • 1 cup juice from Oranges, approx. 4-5 Oranges
  • 1/2 cup  juice from Limes, approx. 3-4 Limes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Oregano, redid
  • 1 tsp Ground Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 whole head of Garlic, minced (if you are going to make extra for a dipping sauce, you want to crush the garlic more than when just making a marinade.)

If you are using a Picnic Shoulder cut with the skin attached, use a sharp pairing knife to take the skin and fat layer off. The easiest way to do this is to peel the skin and fat back with one hand as you use a pairing knife to slice underneath. It’s ok if there is a little fat left on the meat. (Save the skin to use for fat back or to make chicharrones.)Pork shoulder

remove skin from pork

With a sharp chefs knife, cut the Pork shoulder into large 3 to 4 inch chunks. If you have a bone-in roast, remove the bone. Place the chunks of pork into a ziploc bag and set aside.20190430_120610

To make the marinade, Juice enough Oranges to make 1 cup of liquid. (I used Florida Juicing Oranges so it was 4 oranges to get 1 cup of juice.) * A good trick is to warm the citrus you are using in the microwave for 5-7 seconds. Then using the palm of your hand, roll and press the citrus on the counter, like you are forming a ball from clay. This releases a lot more juice. 20190506_135806

Add 1/2 a cup of fresh squeezed Lime Juice, using the same microwaving trick to release more juice. This took about 3 Limes for me to get 1/2 a cup of juice.

Pour the citrus juice into a mixing bowl and add 2 Tsp Oregano, 2 tsp Salt, 1 tsp Ground Pepper, 1/2 tsp Onion Powder, and 1 head of Garlic, minced and crushed. Whisk well. (You now have Mojo. You can double this recipe and save half for later. If you want to turn it into a sauce for dipping you would whisk in 3/4 cup Olive Oil that you heat on the stove. Heating the oil is important because it “cooks” the garlic, making it soft and melding the flavors.)

homemade mojo

Add the Mojo tot he bag with the Pork and place into the fridge for 4 to 12 hours.marinading pork

When ready to cook, pour the entire contents of the ziploc bag (pork and marinade) into your Instant Pot liner with 1/2 cup Water.

Lock the Instant Pot Lid into place and make sure the Valve is set to the Sealed position. Pressure cook on High for 70 mins and allow to Natural Pressure Release completely which will take 15-20 mins.

Remove the pork and place into a bowl. Discard all but 1/4 of a cup of the liquid that is left in the Instant Pot. 20190507_202735

Clean the Instant Pot liner and place back into the Instant Pot and press Saute and adjust to High (I have an Instant Pot Max that allows you adjust the Saute temp through the touch screen. however, on most other models you can cycle through the temperatures by either using the “Adjust” button or by just pressing the “Saute” button multiple times until it reaches the temperature you want.)

Add 3 Tbl of Olive Oil and allow the Instant Pot to get hot. Add the slices of Yellow Onion and Saute while stirring until the onions begin to get soft and brown.

Once the onions are starting to brown, add the 1/4 cup of reserved marinade and deglaze to get the browned bits of flavor.  Add the Pork and 2 tsp of Salt and mix with a wooden spatula or spoon. As you mix, use the spatula to chop up the meat. 20190430_203510

Serve with White Rice and my Cuban Black Beans or on a crusty loaf of Cuban or Italian Bread to make the best sandwich you will ever have! Buen Provecho!


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