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    Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork)

    Pernil – This awesome Puerto Rican roasted pork shoulder is a special recipe. We’ve been wanting to cook this for you for some time…

    We love our Latin food here at GypsyPlate. From great seasonings like salsa taquera and mojo marinade, to mains like picadillo and barbacoa pork, we’re always cooking up tropical delicacies.

    But this may be our favorite yet. Marinated pork shoulder slow roasted into tender perfection with an amazingly tasty crispy skin. If you love flavor, this may be the best pork recipe ever. Sound good? Read on…

    Shredded pork on a platter with rice and orange slices.

    What is Pernil?

    Pernil is the traditional centerpiece on Puerto Rican Christmas spreads, though variations are also found throughout the Caribbean.

    A whole pork shoulder is marinated in garlic, herbs and other great Latin seasonings overnight, sometimes up to 48 hours, for some amazing flavor.

    Then, it’s slow roasted for hours until the meat is fall off the bone tender, and the skin is amazingly crispy and delicious.

    Puerto Rican roasted pork.

    The marinade can vary, but it commonly includes sofrito, adobo, sazon, oregano and garlic. Lots of garlic. YUMMM!

    If your typical seasoning repertoire is “a dash of salt and a dash of pepper”, this may not be the recipe for you. This one is all about flavor!

    Check out our collection of favorite Caribbean Recipes!

    Tips for the best Pernil

    Close up of shredded pernil.
    1. Only use pork shoulder, or as a second option Boston butt. Any other cut won’t be moist and tender.
    2. Don’t skimp on marinade. This is a big piece of meat, it can handle a lot of seasoning.
    3. Don’t hurry. Oven temperatures can vary, so the times listed here may need adjusting. You want your roast to measure 180-190 degrees with a meat thermometer to be nice and tender.
    4. Knock! At the end of cooking, give the skin a tap. It should be nice and hard. If not, broil it for a few minutes until it is. You don’t want to miss out on that crispy skin!

    Pernil Ingredients

    Chopped garlic.
    • Pork Shoulder
    • Garlic – Cut into slivers.
    • Sofrito – It is readily available in the Latin aisle of the grocery store, but is so much better fresh. Try my easy homemade sofrito recipe.
    • Adobo – A great Latin seasoned salt.
    • Sazon – Another Latin seasoning.
    • Oregano
    • Olive oil
    • Orange juice

    How to make Pernil

    First, go ahead and mix together your marinade ingredients in a bowl: sofrito, adobo, sazon, oregano and olive oil.

    The marinade in a bowl.

    Next get the sharpest knife in your kitchen and cut the skin away from the meat, leaving a small bit attached on one end. The skin may wrap around the bottom of the roast, if needed slice through it. Try to cut down to the meat, with the fat attached to the skin.

    Pork shoulder with the skin pulled back.

    Place the roast in a roasting pan bottom side up and stab a bunch of deep holes into the meat. Fill the holes with garlic slivers and marinade. Cover the entire bottom of the roast with marinade. At this point you should have used about a third of the marinade. Flip over.

    With the skin pulled back, repeat the process of poking holes and filling with garlic and marinade on the top of the roast. Slather the top with more marinade, leaving about a quarter of it for the skin.

    Marinade applied to the pork.

    Place the skin back on the roast and score deep cuts in a criss-cross fashion, not cutting all the way through. Rub the remaining marinade onto the skin, making sure to get some down into the grooves.

    The skin put back on and covered with marinade.

    Cover the roast tightly with foil and refrigerate 24-48 hours.

    One the day of the feast, take your pernil out of the refrigerator an hour before roasting to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Cover with pernil with aluminum foil and roast for according to the table below.

    Add orange juice to the pan, cover and roast. In final hour of cooking, increase oven temperature to 450°F, remove foil and continue roasting for final hour hour. Remove from oven and let rest 30 minutes.

    The roasted pernil in a pan.

    Remove skin to the side. This is great to eat on the side. Remove most of the juices into a bowl. Shred meat with two forks. Toss in some of the juices until you have the desired juiciness.

    Shredded pernil.

    How long to roast Pernil

    Roast the pernil at 350°F for 35 minutes per pound. Again, ovens vary so these times are guidelines. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 180-190°F.

    5 pounds – 3 hours
    7 pounds – 4 hours
    6 pounds – 4.5 hours
    8 pounds – 5 hours
    10 pounds – 6 hours

    How to serve Pernil

    Many like to squeeze on some orange or lemon juice, or garnish with cilantro.

    The most common side dish for pernil is arroz con gandules, or rice and pigeon peas, which is the national dish of Puerto Rico. It also goes great with tostones or maduros.

    That being said, this super flavorful meat is also a great filler for tacos, empanadas, bowl meals or even sandwiches. Leftovers go especially good in Cuban sandwiches.

    The platter of pernil and rice.

    Variations

    • Sometimes we add orange juice or lime juice to the marinade for a citrusy flavor.
    • Play with seasonings. Sazon is not always used, though we love the flavor it adds. Sometimes we add a dash or cumin or paprika.
    • You can grind the garlic into a paste with a mortar and pestle and mix it in with the marinade.

    Slow cooker Pernil

    Yes, you can make pernil in the crock pot!

    When preparing for marination, remove the skin entirely, as it will not crisp up. Then, marinate as usual.

    Cook it in the slow cooker for 9-10 hours on low or 6-7 hours on high. Omit the orange juice, as plenty of natural juices will collect in the crock pot.

    After cooking, shred the meat and toss with the juices.

    How to store leftovers

    Good news. This is a big roast, so unless you have a huge gathering, there will be leftovers.
    The leftover pernil refrigerates well in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

    If you want to freeze some, I like to portion it in ziploc bags. Depending on the size of your family, use either quart or gallon freezer bags. Try to get as much air out of the bags as possible to avoid freezer burn, and freeze for 2-3 months.

    Another shot of the shredded pernil and rice.

    We hope you enjoy this classic Puerto Rican Pernil as much as we do. Whether for a Christmas celebration, a get together, or just a special Sunday meal, this super tasty pulled pork is always a treat.

    If you love big flavors as much as we do, this is bound to become a new favorite. While you’re here, be sure to subscribe to the GypsyPlate newsletter, we’re always cooking up tasty new meals for you!

    Pernil, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    A serving of pernil on the Gypsy Plate.

    Try these other great Latin American dishes!
    Bistec Encebollado
    Steak Fajitas
    Shrimp Tacos
    Pico de Gallo
    Pastel de Choclo
    Barbacoa Beef
    Pollo Guisado

    Pernil.

    Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork)

    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 5 hours
    Additional Time: 1 day
    Total Time: 1 day 5 hours 20 minutes

    Pernil is a classic Puerto Rican pork dish that's generously marinated and roasted to tender perfection. It's their traditional Christmas centerpiece, but is great any time!

    Ingredients

    • 8 lbs Pork shoulder
    • 12-13 garlic cloves, slivered
    • 8-9 Tbsp sofrito
    • 3 Tbsp Adobo
    • 2 sazon seasoning packets
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 Tbsp oregano
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 cup orange juice

    Instructions

    1. Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl: sofrito, adobo, sazon, cumin, oregano and olive oil.
    2. With a sharp knife, cut the skin away from the meat, leaving a small bit attached on one end. The skin may wrap around the bottom of the roast, if needed slice through it. Try to cut down to the meat, with the fat attached to the skin.
    3. Place the roast in a roasting pan bottom side up and stab a bunch of deep holes into the meat. Fill the holes with garlic slivers and marinade. Cover the entire bottom of the roast with a third of the marinade.
    4. With the skin pulled back, repeat the process of poking holes and filling with garlic and marinade on the top of the roast. Slather the top with more marinade, leaving about a quarter of it for the skin.
    5. Place the skin back on the roast and score deep cuts in a criss-cross fashion, not cutting all the way through. Rub the remaining marinade onto the skin, making sure to get some down into the grooves.
    6. Cover the roast tightly with foil and refrigerate 24-48 hours.
    7. When ready to cook, take your pernil out of the refrigerator an hour before roasting to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    8. Add orange juice to the pan, cover and roast for four hours.
    9. Increase oven temperature to 450°F, remove foil and continue roasting for one hour, until meat measures 180-190°F with a meat thermometer.
    10. Remove from oven and let rest 30 minutes.
    11. Cut off the skin and place aside. This is great to eat on the side.
    12. Remove most of the juices into a bowl. Shred meat with two forks. Toss in some of the juices until you have the desired juiciness.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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