Citizens, few things are as wonderful as a well-cooked piece of pork, with melting-tender fat and juiciness, crisp skin and meat that defines the very essence of savory palatal ecstacy!
Pernil fits that bill to perfection!
Pernil is a slow-roasted marinated pork shoulder that is practically a national dish of Puerto Rico – it is commonly shared during Christmas, typically accompanied by arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas).
The pork shoulder is used as a whole piece, with skin and bone. It is marinated the day prior to roasting with sofrito (a vegetable, herb and spice blend), salt, and pepper plus possibly additional spices (such as oregano or adobo). Sofrito is usually placed deeply within the meat through small cuts.
After marination the covered meat is slowly roasted initially in the oven for several hours, and, in the final phase, at a higher temperature with the cover off to get the skin crispy. When finished, the meat “falls off the bone”, and the crispy skin (cuero) is separated, cleared of fat, and can be served separately as cueritos (skin chips).
Left-over meat from a pernil can be used to delicious and savory effect in a Cuban sandwich.
As noted on the site thenoshery.com:
There is a trick to getting a fork tender roast and crispy skin. First, score the skin to allow the fat to render and baste the meat. But, be careful only to score the skin till you just begin to see fat.
You do not want to score it all the way down to the meat. Also, roasting covered low and slow allows the meat to get fork tender. Finally, hit it with high heat to crisp the skin.
In the past, I use to separate the skin completely from the shoulder and season the meat underneath. The problem with doing this was that the skin would start to shrink and create folds. Making it harder to crisp the skin. Also, with the skin the fat would shrink back also, meaning it would no longer naturally baste the meat.
To resolve this, I started cutting long pockets under the skin and fat, stuffing them with seasoning. By keeping the skin still attached it gets more taught during the cooking process, resulting in a thinner crispier skin.
Citizens, my version of this classic recipe uses a combination of different citrus juices to replicate the hard-to-find sour orange that is a necessity in this dish. I also use my own blend of seasonings, including a touch of smoked paprika to add some live-fire goodness to this oven-baked porcine apotheosis! 🙂
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 1 7 lb pork shoulder, bone-in
- ***The Hirshon Puerto Rican Sofrito***
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 Cubanelle pepper (strongly preferred) or substitute with green bell pepper
- 1 small jar roasted red peppers (preferred) or 1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed
- 10 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 cup cilantro
- 12 ajíes dulces (a small colorful sweet pepper that can be hard to find and may be skipped)
- 6 leaves of recao (Culantro – not cilantro, culantro!) (this can be hard to find and may be eliminated if you have to)
- ¼ cup Spanish olives, pitted
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 package Sazón Goya seasoning with coriander and annatto
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons freshly-ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 cup sour orange juice (from seville oranges) OR ½ cup orange juice ¼ cup lime juice and ¼ cup grapefruit juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 cups chicken stock
- To make the sofrito:
- Wash, peel, seed and coarsely chop everything. Put in a blender and pureé. Store leftovers in a glass jar covered in the refrigerator for later use.
- Alternatively, freeze it in ice-cube trays and dump the frozen cubes in a freezer bag. This will be fried in achiote oil or tocino as the first step in most Puerto Rican recipes. This recipe makes about 2 large ice-cube trays. Use about 3 cubes for rice or soup that will serve a family.
- Once the sofrito is made, add as much as you like into a food processor, combine with all remaining ingredients except pork and chicken stock; taste, add more sofrito to adjust flavor to taste and set aside.
- Rinse pork shoulder under cold water and pat dry. Slip a boning knife under the skin creating a pocket 1 inch wide down the whole length of the pork shoulder. Stuff the pockets with the sofrito. Repeat this 2 more times. Salt the pork shoulder and then cover thoroughly with the sofrito marinade. Cover tray with plastic wrap; transfer to refrigerator to marinate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight and up to 2 days.
- When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes to take off some of the chill. Wipe off excess marinade from the skin of pork and pour stock into bottom of pan so that it goes up about 2 inches on the side of the pork (leave the extra marinade in the pan).
- (Note: depending on the size of your roasting pan, you may need more stock – feel free to add as much as you need to get the liquid up to 2″ in the pan! You can use more broth or top up with water.)
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil or pan cover and place in oven on lowest rack to bake for 6 to 7 hours or until very tender.
- (It’s very difficult to “overcook” the meat as long as you keep the heat low, the roast covered, and the liquid in the pan–you can even go down to 300 degrees if you want to be safe.)
- Once meat is tender, remove foil from pan and increase heat to broil cook several more minutes until skin is crisp and crackling.
- Transfer pernil to a serving platter. Serve pernil along with reduced pan juices, and a rice dish or plantains.
Citizens, please note that I can no longer afford to absorb the nearly $1000 per month it costs to keep the site running smoothly, including marketing expenses, etc.
You can make a difference!
Please consider making a one-time donation to help keep the site live and the posts coming – click here to PayPal Me a tip!
You can also show your support by listening to our podcasts, liking them, and sharing as you see fit – try them out here.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?