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Pierna - Pork leg with Prunes and Chipotle
Tasty, elegant and festive, with only a moderate degree of work. The “pierna” or pork leg roast presents like a pork loin, but is far more flavorful and succulent than a pork loin could ever be. In Mexico, stuffed “pierna” is popular at celebrations (leftovers make knock-out delicious “torta” sandwiches). The sweetness of prunes pair well with pork, the citrus marinade gives a brightness to the duo, and the chipotle adds an over-the-top “umami” that makes the roast seem a whole lot more complicated than is this recipe.
Pork leg’s cooking time is more forgiving than pork loin; still, it's worth the effort to not overcook it. The USDA’s guidelines for safely cooking pork recommends 145˚ internal temperature for loins, roasts, chops, and the leaner pork cuts. Pregnant women and those with immune system issues should still cook pork to an internal temperatures of 160˚.
Knife with a long, thin, sharp blade
Large fry pan
Large zip-top bag for marinading
Spatula for deglazing fry pan
Spoon/ladle for basting
3lbs Boneless pork leg (pierna)
12 Pitted and halved prunes
5 Chile chipotles, canned in escabeche sauce, cut in strips
2 Cloves garlic minced
3 Cups orange juice
2 Tablespoons grapeseed, or avocado oil, plus some to coat pan
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Large white onion cut in rings
Salt to sprinkle over entire pierna
8 All spice berries crushed
1. Insert a long bladed knife, (fillet knife works well), lengthwise into the pierna, creating four stuffing channels in the meat. Stuff alternating between prune pieces and chipotle strips.
2. Rub meat with salt, all spice, and minced garlic.
3. Place meat in marinade bag and cover with orange juice, refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is fine).
4. Separate meat from marinade juice, retain juice.
5. Pat meat dry and let it come to room temperature (about one hour); sprinkle with flour.
6. In large fry pan heat oil.
7. Preheat oven to 350˚.
8. In the large fry pan, thoroughly brown meat on all sides (this will take 7-10 minutes).
9. Lightly grease roasting pan and line with onion slices.
10. Place meat on top of onion.
11. Add marinade to fry pan and deglaze. Strain and pour over pierna.
12. Cover with foil and place in oven.
13. Roast at 350˚ for two hours, basting every 30 minutes.
14. After two hours, remove foil, check meat temperature. Continue cooking, without foil, until meat reaches 145˚.
15. Remove from oven. Let rest five minutes before slicing.
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