Growing up in a Cuban family, I was fortunate to be exposed to rich flavors and aromas that defined our culinary heritage.
From succulent Cuban roast pork (Lechon Asado) to flavorful Chuletas de Puerco (Cuban pork chops), and from smoky Cuban pollo asado to the tender strands of Cuban ropa vieja, each dish held a special place in our hearts. However, one recipe that never failed to captivate my taste buds was these beloved Masitas de Puerco (or Masitas de Cerdo).
These juicy, fried pork chunks were always a hit with my Cuban family. Today, I am thrilled to share with you our cherished Cuban pork chunks recipe, allowing you to experience the authentic flavors in your own kitchen.
Get ready to savor the essence of our culture through these mouthwatering fried pork chunks with onions that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Cuban cuisine!
What are masitas?
The term “masitas” [pronounced mah-see-tahs] translates to “small chunks” or “pieces.” These delectable pork chunks are marinated and then fried to golden perfection, resulting in a tender exterior and a succulent interior.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Irresistible Cuban flavor. Masitas de puerco are bursting with flavor, thanks to the marinade of sour orange juice, garlic, and spices. The combination of tangy citrus and savory spices creates a truly delightful taste experience.
- Easy to make. This recipe provides step-by-step instructions, making it accessible to both novice and experienced cooks. With a few simple ingredients and some basic cooking techniques, you can recreate this Cuban delicacy in your own kitchen.
- Versatile dish. Serve masitas de puerco with Moros y Cristianos/Arroz Congri (Cuban Black Beans & Rice), Cuban Rice and Beans (Arroz con Frijoles Negro), Arroz Amarillo (Spanish Yellow Rice), and Sweet Plantains (Platanos Maduros). The options are endless.
Recommended For This Recipe
This large, hard anodized, nonstick pan makes frying easy and makes cleanup a breeze. Highly recommend!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Boneless pork shoulder. Perfect for slow cooking and the good amount of marbling adds flavor and ensures that the meat stays juicy and tender during the cooking process.
- Sour orange juice. The acidity of the juice helps to tenderize the pork while adding a delightful citrusy note that balances the richness of the meat.
- Garlic. A key flavor enhancer in Cuban cooking. Mashing it to a paste with 1 tsp of salt helps to release its aromatic oils and infuse the meat with a robust, garlicky taste. The combination of garlic and salt also acts as a natural tenderizer, ensuring that the pork remains tender and juicy.
- Spices. Dried oregano, ground cumin, and black pepper. This trio brings a distinctly Cuban flavor profile (warm and earthy taste) resulting in a well-balanced and flavorful dish.
- Vegetable oil for frying. This oil has a high smoke point and neutral taste which is perfect for frying these pork chunks. If you don’t have vegetable oil, feel free to use another neutral oil with a high smoke point.
- Marinade the pork chunks. In a large bowl, add the pork chunks and then add sour orange juice, mashed garlic paste, oregano, cumin, and pepper. Toss to coat with the marinade. Cover the bowl and marinate in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.
- Dry the uncooked pork chunks. Remove the pork chunks from the marinade. Pat them dry with paper towel and discard the marinade.
- Heat the oil. In a large saucepan, heat 2-3 inches of oil enough to cover the pork chunks and heat to medium heat. The oil must be very hot but not smoking.
- Fry the masitas! Working in batches, add the pork chunks to the pan and then turn the heat up to high to brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. The pork will release moisture so raising the heat to high will help the oil stay hot. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. When the oil is hot again and the pork chunks are browned on all sides, turn the heat back down to medium-high and keep cooking until they’re cooked through and crispy, about 10 minutes.
- Drain and serve. Transfer the pork chunks to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with lime wedges. Enjoy!
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Don’t skip marinating. Allow the pork to marinate in the sour orange juice, garlic paste, and spices for at least 1 hour, or even overnight if possible. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat and infuse it with deliciousness.
- Use a deep-fry thermometer. Maintaining the correct frying temperature is essential. Use a deep-fry thermometer to monitor the oil temperature and ensure it stays around 350°F (175°C).
- Double frying technique. For an extra crispy result, you can employ a double frying technique. After the initial frying, remove the pork from the pan and drain on paper towels. Then, return the pork to the hot oil for a second fry until it reaches the desired level of crispiness. This method yields a crunchier exterior.
When you’re done making this recipe, make one of my other easy pork recipes!
Side Dishes for Masitas de Puerco
- Cuban Rice and Beans Recipe (Arroz con Frijoles Negro). This classic Cuban dish pairs perfectly with Chuletas de Puerco. The beans add a creamy texture and a savory flavor that complements the pork chops well.
- Moros y Cristianos/Arroz Congri (Cuban Black Beans & Rice). Another classic Cuban side dish for these fried pork chunks.
- Sweet Plantains (Platanos Maduros). Adds a sweet and savory flavor to the meal which is perfect for balancing out the savory and salty flavors of the pork chops. You can also make tostones instead if you prefer.
- Avocado salad. A simple avocado onion salad is a great way to add a fresh flavor to the meal. Recipe in the notes section of the recipe card.
- In the fridge. Allow the cooked pork to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. They can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
- In the freezer. Place the leftovers in a freezer-safe container or resealable freezer bag. Ensure that it is tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn. They can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
- To thaw, transfer the frozen pork chunks to the fridge overnight. Once thawed, you can reheat them in the oven at 350°F until warmed through or even crisp them up in the air fryer for about 5 minutes at 350ºF.
Masitas de Puerco (Cuban Fried Pork Chunks)
- 2 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup sour orange juice (naranja agria)
- 6 cloves garlic mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Remove the pork chunks from the marinade. Pat them dry with paper towel and discard the marinade.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2-3 inches of oil enough to cover the pork chunks and heat to medium heat. The oil must be very hot but not smoking.
- Working in batches, add the pork chunks to the pan and then turn the heat up to high to brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. The pork will release moisture so raising the heat to high will help the oil stay hot. Careful not to overcrowd the pan.
- When the oil is hot again and the pork chunks are browned on all sides, turn the heat back down to medium-high and keep cooking until they’re cooked through and crispy, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the pork chunks to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with lime wedges. Enjoy!
- 2-3 Hass avocados
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced white onions (half moons)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste