Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pernil, A Puerto Rican Style Roast Pork Shoulder

  It's that time of the week again! IHCC's cooking with Mark Bittman and this weeks challenge is Spice Caravan. Some of my favorite spices to cook with are my fresh ground chili peppers. I began thinking that the fresh ground chilies didn't really qualify as a spice, which is why I looked it up , so I added the link for all of you nay sayers.
  I have made this dish often, it is one of our favorite ways to cook a pork roast. Any leftover meat can be used in any numerous ways, as the flavor profile is very basic. Not bland in any way mind you, just that it adapts to many other recipes very well. Cuban sandwiches come to mind, as well as tacos, fajitas, carnitas, or even any type of casserole you could imagine. The recipe I have always used in the past is from Daisy Martinez, however I have to say I like Mark Bittman's Pernil far better. The difference is the addition of the chilies. The only adaption I made to this recipe was that I added a little orange juice and I replaced the ancho clili powder for a combination of guajillo and chipolte chili powders, as Mark suggests in his book How to Cook Everything (pg. 755) and on his webpage, the chilies are optional or interchangeable. If you've never made a pork roast this way, I suggest you give it a try. The ingredients are few and this is a "let the oven do all the work" recipe.

The few ingredients you will probably already have on hand are; garlic, onion, oregano, chili powder of your choice, cumin, salt and pepper, wine vinegar, and oil. And the pork of course. I did forget to put the cumin in the photo, however when I was mixing my spices I did remember to add it in. (Mark's website version includes the cumin in the mix). I also added some fresh squeezed orange juice as the original recipes usually call for sour orange juice (which I can not find up here).

Combine all ingredients and rub the mixture into the pork. Let this marinate for 1 to 24 hours.When ready to cook, heat oven to 300 degrees. Add a small amount of water to bottom of pan. Roast pork for about 3 hours, turning every 30 minutes or so, basting with the pan juices, until well done (internal temperature should read at least 150 but no more than 160) and very tender. The skin will be crisp. Let the meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into it.

We seved this with red beans and rice. This is truly an all time favorite in our house. I think Michael likes the pressed pork sandwiches we make the next day even better.

Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1 pork shoulder, 4 to 7 pounds (or use fresh ham)
4 or more cloves garlic, peeled
1 large onion, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho or other mild chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil as needed
1 tablespoon wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup of orange juice
Lime wedges for serving

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Score meat's skin with a sharp knife, making a cross-hatch pattern. Pulse garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, chili, salt and pepper together in a food processor, adding oil in a drizzle and scraping down sides as necessary, until mixture is pasty. (Alternatively, mash ingredients in a mortar and pestle.) Blend in the vinegar.
Rub this mixture well into pork, getting it into every nook and cranny. Put pork in a roasting pan and film bottom with water. Roast pork for several hours (a 4-pound shoulder may be done in 3 hours), turning every hour or so and adding more water as necessary, until meat is very tender. Finish roasting with the skin side up until crisp, raising heat at end of cooking if necessary.
Let meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it up; meat should be so tender that cutting it into uniform slices is almost impossible; rather, whack it up into chunks. Serve with lime.
Makes 6 to 10 servings


Pernil, A Puerto Rican Style Roast Pork Shoulder

An incredibly simple pork roast with a hint of Spanish ...

See Pernil, A Puerto Rican Style Roast Pork Shoulder on Key Ingredient.

Pernil, A Puerto Rican Style Roast Pork Shoulder on Foodista

This is our submission for IHCC's Mark Bittman's Spice Caravan Challenge.
Michael and Carla


  1. Amazing job with the pernil. Great use of ancho chili powder. You've made the Ricans proud. 10 out of 10...Cheers!

  2. U 2 never cease to amaze me! I think I will surprise my Puerto Rican husband (your father) and make this 1 for him on Fathers Day. (maybe)
    LOL.Looks delicious.

  3. I've never had pernil but I love it from what I see in the ingredients.

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  4. This looks yummy. "Let the oven do all the work" recipes are my favorites! ;-) I bet this would be amazing on a Cuban sandwich--great pick!

  5. I would never naysay something this delicious! I love pork, especially when prepared like this.

  6. Not many things make me happier than a roast pork shoulder. This sounds delish!

  7. Oh yum - I've always wanted to try pernil. Like Deb, I think some Cuban sandwiches sound great with leftovers!! This sounds like a wonderful recipe to try.

  8. This looks really delicious. I have a real fondness for Mark Bittman. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  9. This looks fantastic - I love the idea of marinating in the spices overnight, then a slow cook in the oven. I am salivating just thinking about it!

  10. I am loving this recipe. Delicious. The only thing missing from this meal is the plantains. Great post.

  11. I will be trying this! It sounds delicious with lots of good things in it! Thanks for the recipe!

  12. I nominated your fantastic blog for an award. Please have a look. No pressure to do anything, just wanted to let you know that I dig your blog. Cheers!


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