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Pulled Pork and Pear Empanadas with Cilantro Mojo

Serves30
IngredientsVegetables, Meat
Day PartDinner
Menu PartAppetizer/Small Plate
Cuisine TypeLatin
Pulled Pork and Pear Empanadas with Cilantro Mojo

Source: USA Pears (and photo)

For these empanadas, Chef Gonzalez balances the natural sweetness of pears with smoky pulled pork and garlicky-lemony mojo. Extra layers of flavor are created through an acidic “mop” for the pork and caramelized onions and pears, plus a spike of hot chilies. To shorten prep time, the chef sources La Saltena empanada shells.

Ingredients

Adobo:
3 tbsp.dried oregano
1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
10 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 lb. boneless pork butt or shoulder
Empanada shells

Mojo:
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Mop:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. vegetable oil

Spiked Caramelized Pears:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 Anjou pears, diced in 1/4-in. pieces
1 med. Vidalia or other sweet onion, diced in 1/4-in. pieces
1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chili pepper, finely minced
1 tsp. sherry wine vinegar
Few drops fresh lemon juice

Steps

  1. Place the pork butt or shoulder in a roasting pan, fat side up. Prepare Adobo: In small bowl, combine oregano, rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Rub adobo all over pork, using some pressure to get it to adhere. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hr.
  2.   One hour before roasting, remove pork from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the pork with salt and freshly ground black pepper; cover with aluminum foil.
  3.  Prepare Mop: In med. bowl, combine vinegar, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Place roasting pan in middle of preheated oven; cook until a meat thermometer inserted in center registers 165°F, turning the pan and brushing pork with the mop every 20 min., for a total of about 90 min. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4.  Meanwhile, prepare Mojo: Sauté minced garlic to soften slightly. Add cilantro, lemon juice and olive oil.
  5.  When pork is cool enough to handle, shred meat. Pour pan juices and mojo over shredded meat; set aside.
  6.  Prepare Spiked Caramelized Pears: In non-reactive sauté pan over low heat, heat sugar gently until it dissolves. Just as sugar begins to color slightly, add diced pears and onion; increase heat and toss to coat. Continue cooking another few minutes, until pears and onions are soft and golden brown.
  7.  Remove from heat and add minced chili, vinegar and lemon juice. Toss to combine and set aside to cool.
  8.  Prepare empanada filling: Add 4 cups pulled pork and mojo to caramelized pears and stir to combine. Place 2 heaping tbsp. filling in middle of each empanada shell near bottom. Lightly moisten edges of shell all the way around. Carefully fold the top over the contents to make a semi-circle; crimp edges with fork.
  9. Heat vegetable oil to 370°F. in deep fryer. Deep-fry empanadas in hot oil until golden brown, about 2 min. per side. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

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