As a Puerto Rican, one of my favorite traditions is making and serving a delicious pork roast on special occasions. In my family, that's Christmas, but trust me, you'll want this dish all the time! If there is anything we Puerto Ricans love, it's FLAVOR, and this roast is the epitome of flavor.
For a bit of background, this dish is called Pernil (pronounced like PED-NEEL). Pernil is a slow-roasted pork shoulder, with the skin still on, that has a crunchy exterior and juicy inside. While it does take patience during the cooking process, the ingredients are relatively simple and the results are out of this world.
Step 1: Ingredients
*Pro-Tip* I know you're probably wondering where on Earth you can find a pork shoulder with the skin still on. The good news is that most Walmarts have them! If you don't see them out amongst the pork products, ask an employee if they have a pork picnic roast with the skin still on and they usually keep them in the back.
The basic marinade ingredients include:
- Apple Cider Vinegar (1/2 cup or more)
- Olive Oil (1/2 cup or more)
- Salt (2 tablespoon or more, depending on the size of your pork shoulder)
- Pepper (1 tablespoon)
- Accent (2 teaspoons)
- Oregano (You can't really have too much of this, but we will say about 1 cup). I prefer fresh but dried is fine too.
- Garlic (4 or more cloves, peeled)
Other needed items:
- Tin foil
- a large pan
- a blender or food processor
*Pro-Tip* I suggest marinating the meat OVERNIGHT, and allowing the meat to soak everything in so you can be ready to just pop it in the oven the next day. The longer the marinade, the more flavor sealed in.
Step 2: The Marinade (Adding the Ingredients)
*Pro-Tip* The thing about Pernil is that every ingredient is generally added to taste when it comes to the marinade, but for the sake of first-timers, I will add general guidelines on amounts. Keep in mind, you can never really have too much of any of the ingredients in the marinade, it really boils down to your preference in flavor strength so don't be afraid to branch out!
If you don't have a food processor, have no fear, a blender will work just fine.
I like to start by adding the dry ingredients first. This isn't required, but it is a lot easier because there are more dry ingredients than wet. Add the salt, pepper, accent, oregano together in the blender. Then follow with garlic.
*Pro-Tip* Garlic is the STAPLE of the recipe, so don't be afraid, you can add as much as you like. Make sure it is peeled.
Once you have the dry ingredients ready to go in the blender, add your vinegar and olive oil. Having more vinegar than olive oil allows for a tangy flavor, while the oil just cuts the intensity to avoid having it be over powering.
*Pro-Tip* I use apple cider vinegar because it has a bit of a fuller body than regular white vinegar. If you hate vinegar, don't worry, you can use a citrus if you'd like, such as lime.
Once everything is in the blender, it's time to move to the next step which breaks down the specifics of blending because CONSISTENCY IS KEY.
Step 3: The Marinade (Blending & Application)
Once everything is in the blender, go ahead and blend it on a pulse setting.
*Pro-Tip* You want it to be the consistency of a paste, so try not to over-liquify it.I like to have some chunkier pieces of garlic instead of completely blending.
Before you marinate, just give the roast a quick rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Now it's time to slather it on the pork shoulder, skin and all! Put as much as possible. Honestly, I usually make two batches of marinade and add both.
*Pro-Tip* Make sure to get in all the creases and crevices so no part of the roast goes untouched. I find it easier to just wash your hands well and use them, but if that isn't your cup of tea, a pastry brush works too.
Cover your roast with tin foil and stick it in the refrigerator overnight or for roughly 12 hours.
Step 4: Cooking
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
To cook the Pernil, once the meat is in the oven you're going to want to time it to be 15 minutes per pound. So, if you have a 10 pound roast, you'll have it cooking for 2.5 hours.
Leave the tin foil on.
When you reach the final hour and a half of cooking, turn the temperature up to 375 degrees and remove the tin foil. This allows the skin on the outside to become crunchy, while still sealing the juices into the inside of the meat.
When the time is up, remove from the oven and let stand for 30 minutes.
*Pro-Tip* We like to remove the crunchy skin pieces and cut the meat separately, but if that's not your style, just slice and serve!