Pork Havana "Nueva"


I was first introduced to Pork Havana in 1972 on a visit to Key West. It was delicious and I especially liked the accompaniments of black beans and fried plantains. Plantains, a variety of banana, are among the principal starches of the West Indies. They are not sweet at all, unless you allow them to ripen almost to the point of blackness, which is the thing to do. You will find them in Spanish markets.

The marinade for the pork includes lime. True Pork Havana is made with a whole pork roast and is marinated with sour oranges, which I encourage you to use if you can locate some.

This recipe is an example of how we take a standard dish and shuffle the components to yield a more modern look, taste, and feel, transforming the solid structure of the classic into a fresh and appealing new version. Note that you must make some preparations a day ahead.

Serves 4


Pork and Marinade

  • 1 orange
  • 2 limes cup olive oil
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 16 to 20 whole black peppercorns, bruised
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 fresh pork tenderloins (each approximately 1 pound total weight), cleaned of any silverskin and cut in half on lengthwise bias
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or olive oil for sautéing pork
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish
  • sherry vinegar

Bean Sauce

  • 1/4 pound slab bacon, diced medium
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil red onion, diced medium jalapeño, diced medium
  • 2 stalks celery, diced medium
  • 2 cups black beans, soaked overnight in the refrigerator in water to cover
  • 3 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 or 2 plantains, depending on size, peeled and cut on an extreme bias into l/2-inch-thick slices, to make 12 slices
  • 1 cup flour; seasoned with salt and pepper and ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 lime wedges (or sour orange wedges if you have them)
  • 1 large red onion, cut into medium-thick slices

1. Cut and squeeze orange and limes into a large ceramic or glass bowl. Add the fruit rinds, olive oil, garlic, peppercorns, cilantro, and bay leaves and mix well. Add the pork and marinate overnight in refrigerator.

2. The next day, begin by making the sauce: Cook the diced slab bacon in peanut oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, stirring often. When bacon is almost cooked, add the diced vegetables and stir.

3. When the vegetables are soft add the drained beans and cook 1 minute. Add the cumin and cayenne and stir. Add the stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Skim stock, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook beans until just soft and reserve. (It's possible the beans will require more stock as they cook.) Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.

4. Dredge plantain slices in seasoned flour. Gently cook floured plantain slices on both sides in 1/4 cup clarified butter until golden. Remove plantains to a plate to drain on paper towels until serving time.

5. Shortly before serving time, remove meat from marinade, season with freshly ground pepper, and sauté medium-rare to medium in a hot skillet; keep warm.

6. Refry plantains in 1 tablespoon butter and remove from pan.

7. Ladle the black bean sauce into the same pan that you used to sauté pork, and heat quickly. Add a splash of Spanish vinegar and divide sauce among plates.

8. Slice each of the pork tenderloins into 1-inch slices. Arrange meat and plantains alternately over the sauce. Garnish each serving with sour cream, lime wedges, and red onion slices.


Recipe from:
Feast of Sunlight
by Norman Van Aken
The Harvard Common Press
Copyright ©1997
Reprinted by permission.

Norman Van Aken: A Chef In His Own Words



This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007

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