Pernil is regarded as a Puerto Rican holiday treat. It’s served during the Christmas holidays in lieu of the traditional turkey. Here is MY recipe:
Buy a “Pork Shoulder Picnic Cut”. It looks like the picture below. Notice it has a nice layer of fat on top. If you don’t find this particular piece then buy any large chunk of pork. This is my preferred cut because it has the fat on top, like most jibaros (country folk), I like the skin.
Note: It’s best when seasoned and left to marinate in the refrigerator for one day or at least, overnight.
- 7 lbs. pork shoulder – picnic cut (with fat)
- 9 garlic cloves (You may use powder garlic or ground garlic sold in glass jars – 1 tsp. equals one clove)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed oregano
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon Goya Annatto paste
- 1 teaspoon Goya Adobo
- 1 envelope of Goya Sazon
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of vinegar
- 1½ teaspoon salt
Crush the whole garlic with the side of a wide knife then dice the pieces. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, adobo, annatto paste, sazon, vinegar and olive oil.
Cut the lemon in half and sprinkle lemon juice over the entire pork shoulder. This will rid the meat of its “swinish” odor. Then wash the meat thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife cut the fat away from the meat, leaving an edge attached and keeping it all in one piece. Start at the wide end and go to the narrow end. You don’t have to separate it completely – just leave enough still connected so that you can flip the fat over to the side while you season the meat itself. The fat will be placed over the seasoned meat and will cook over the meat giving it more flavor. Season the side of the fat that goes over the meat with a bit of the seasoning also – just that one side by running your hand on it. The other side – the top – should only have salt. Make very deep slits all over the meat and evenly spread the marinade making sure it goes into all the slits. Be sure to place garlic cloves into slits as well. Put the fat back over the meat to look the same as before it was cut and sprinkle it with salt. Refrigerate the shoulder, covered with plastic wrap, for one day or at least, overnight.
Let the meat get back into room temperature before cooking, if it was refrigerated. (About one hour). Place the meat in a deep pan with the fat side up. There will be a lot of grease so be sure to use a deep pan that is at least 2″ deep. The fat side up will make a nice crunchy skin. DO NOT cover with foil. Preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes before placing the meat inside. Cook in a 400º oven for one hour, then reduce temperature to 300º for about 4 hours or so – DO NOT TURN MEAT. When the meat is done, you can prick it on the side with a fork to see if it shreds. If the skin is not crispy enough for your satisfaction, then leave it in the oven and raise the temperature again to 400º and cook another 15 or so until it is crispy. It will crisp fast so keep your eye on it!
Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest on the counter for about 20-30 minutes before carving. To carve, remove the skin completely and set aside. Carve the meat and then cut the skin into pieces and place over the meat. If you’re going to take this to a party put it in an oven-safe container and put it back in a 200º to keep it warm, DON’T COVER IT because the crispy skin will get soft. Cut the skin and serve meat on a piece of skin for traditional presentation of this dish.