Puerco en Naranja (Mexican Pork with Orange)

Puerco en Naranja (roast pork with oranges)
Last Friday I gave you a sneak peak of what I was about to cook, and I’ve finally recovered from the weekend enough to write up the recipe for the main event of my birthday dinner: Puerco en Naranja (or Pork cooked in Orange Juice). This is a stunning recipe and perfect for a really special occasion. It takes a bit of time, but it is so worth it.

Mum ordered the pork from the butchers (it’s an unusual cut, so you will probably need to order from your local butcher, or at least visit the meat counter at the supermarket. However, if you fancy the flavour of this dish without the cost, you could try the same marinade with a cheap cut of pork like shoulder or even chops and just adjust the cooking times and technique). I gave the butcher the name for the order. He returned with the biggest cut of pork loin I’ve ever seen, chuckled and commented “Spears: never a small order”. Well he’s not wrong. But to be fair, every last morsel of meat was devoured.
Ingredients for Puerco en Naranja (Mexican pork with orange)
Ingredients (serves 10 to 12)
9 lbs rib-end pork loin, with the bones chined and the skin scored (ask your butcher to do this for you)
10 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp salt
4 tsp oregano
24 peppercorns
6 oranges

1. Pierce any exposed meat with a sharp knife and place skin side up in a large roasting tin.
Marinade for Puerco en Naranja (garlic, oregano, salt, peppercorns and orange juice)
2. Crush the garlic, salt, oregano and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. Add the juice of 2 of the oranges and mix.
Marinating the pork loin overnight
3. Slather the marinade all over the pork and give it a good massage, rubbing it into any cracks or cuts. Cover in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least one hour, but ideally overnight. We had particularly tasty results with the meat this time, which we are sure was at least in part due to the overnight (12 hours plus) marinade.
4. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Remove the pork from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Pour the juice of 2 more of the oranges over the pork and pop the orange skins in the roasting tin. Cover with tin foil and roast for 2 hours.
The pork loin with orange marinade after 2 hours in the oven - time to turn it
5. Drain off most of the juices and keep aside for later. Turn the pork and bake for a further hour uncovered. Baste every 20 minutes or so.
The pork loin turned - baste often at this point
6. Turn the oven up to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6. Turn the pork skin side up again and cook until the meat has browned and the skin has caramelised (this will take approximately 30 minutes).
Pork loin with oranges after 3 1/2 hours roasting
7. Skim off any fat from the reserved juices, add the juice of the final two oranges and bubble over a high heat until reduced to a thick sauce.
Boiling the orange sauce in order to reduce it
8. Slice the meat – it should fall off the bones beautifully – and pour over the orange cooking liquid.

Serve with wraps, rice and whichever extras you like – we went to town and had beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños, cheese and lettuce. I’m not sure how many of these are authentically Mexican sides but darn they taste good!
Tortilla wrap with Puerco en Naranja, rice, cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream
This recipe is in Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. It was originally passed on to my parents more than 25 years ago by Professor David Weisblat, my dad’s boss while he was a postdoc in California. I’m told that David was a genius at cooking Mexican cuisine, and one night he scrawled this recipe on a scrap of paper for mum and dad. Now we have Diana’s recipe book, but I just love the jumble of words and instructions that David wrote so I thought I’d share it with you:
Hand-written recipe for Puerco en Naranja (pork cooked in orange juice)
I (roughly) doubled the original recipe but you can easily scale it back if you’re not feeding such a crowd! So go on, treat yourself.

Recipes for some of the sides are to come later in the week….

7 thoughts on “Puerco en Naranja (Mexican Pork with Orange)

    • Wow, I feel like this really has the seal of approval if you’re just back from Mexico! I’ve never been, but would love to go one day. I imagine the food was deeeelicious?!
      Let me know how you get on, when you get round to cooking this!


  1. It is such a pleasure to read your blog and remember some of the wonderful cooking events that I shared with your parents. I’ll have to search for the photos your mum blowing air under the skin to make Peking duck!


  2. Pingback: Guacamole and Zingy Bean Dip | The Proof of the Pudding

  3. Looks really delicious, I must say! The recipe scrawled on the paper is lovely, these are the kind of recipes I love to see on blogs-recipes hand written, cherished and passed down from person to person like a secret treasure map. I keep a scrap book of particularly good recipes and my mums secrets, which would be the first thing I grabbed to rescue in a fire!


    • Thanks Katie! Yes I love hand-written recipes. My mum has a huge binder of hand-written recipes, which is full of some of the greatest recipes I know (including this one). I keep meaning to start one of my own – I absolutely love the internet for the ease at which you can find recipes, but sometimes I think it’s a shame to just have a pile of bookmarks online, compared to a physical folder of recipes which come with their own unique story and memory. It’s on my to-do list!…


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