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Pulled Pork and Pear Empanadas with Cilantro Mojo

Pulled Pork and Pear Empanadas with Cilantro Mojo

From: Carmen Gonzalez, New York City. Yield: 30 large or 60 small empanadas.

3 lb. boneless pork butt or pork shoulder
empanada shells (large or small size)

3 Tbsp. dried oregano
½ bunch fresh rosemary
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. vegetable oil

Spiked Caramelized Pears:
½ cup granulated sugar
4 Anjou pears, cut in ¼” dice
1 medium Vidalia onion (or comparable sweet onion), cut into ¼” dice
1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile pepper, finely minced
1 tsp. sherry wine vinegar
a few drops of fresh lemon juice

For adobo: Combine oregano, rosemary, garlic and olive oil in small bowl. Place pork butt or shoulder in a roasting pan, fat side up. Rub adobo all over the pork, using pressure to get it to adhere. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. An hour before roasting pork, remove it from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350°F.

For mop: Combine vinegar, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl. Season pork with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cover with aluminum foil. Place roasting pan in middle of preheated oven and cook until meat thermometer inserted in center or thickest part of meat registers 165°F, turning pan and brushing pork with the mop every 20 minutes, for a total of about 90 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For mojo: Make while pork is cooling. Saute minced garlic to soften slightly, then add cilantro, lemon juice and olive oil. When it is cool enough to  handle, shred the meat using your hands or two forks. Pour pan juices and mojo over shredded meat.

For spiked pears: Put sugar in nonreactive sauté pan and heat gently until it dissolves. Just as sugar begins to color slightly, add diced pears and onion, raise heat and toss to coat. Continue cooking another few minutes, until pears and onions are soft and golden brown. Remove from heat and add minced chile, vinegar and lemon juice. Toss to combine and set aside to cool.

To make empanada filling: Add 4 cups pulled pork and mojo to caramelized pears and stir to combine. Place 2 heaping Tbsp. filling in middle of empanada shell near the bottom. Use your finger and a small dish of water to lightly moisten edges of shell all the way around. Carefully fold top over the contents to make a semi-circle and use a fork to crimp the edges.

Finish empanadas by deep-frying in 350°F vegetable oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with grilled pear and mango relish, if desired.

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