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Pernil- A Classic Puerto Rican Roast Pork Delight

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Pernil from Puerto Rican Holidays

In Puerto Rico, Pernil is more than just a dish; it's a symbol of celebration, family gatherings, and the rich culinary heritage of the island. This slow-roasted pork shoulder is seasoned with a medley of aromatic herbs and spices, resulting in tender, juicy meat with a crispy, golden skin. Let's dive into the authentic Puerto Rican Pernil recipe and savor the flavors of this beloved dish. Pernil, Puerto Rican, Pork Ingredients:

  • 1 whole pork shoulder (8-10 pounds, bone-in and skin-on)

  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • 1/4 cup lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons paprika

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons salt (adjust to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup chicken broth or water


  1. Rinse the pork shoulder thoroughly and pat it dry with paper towels. Score the skin in a crosshatch pattern using a sharp knife to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat.

  2. In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine the peeled garlic cloves, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, paprika, black pepper, salt, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. Blend or grind until you have a smooth, fragrant marinade.

  3. Place the pork shoulder in a large roasting pan or a sturdy resealable plastic bag. Rub the marinade all over the pork, ensuring it reaches all the nooks and crannies. For best results, massage the marinade into the scored skin.

  4. Cover the roasting pan with plastic wrap or seal the plastic bag tightly, ensuring the pork is fully enveloped in the marinade. Refrigerate the marinated pork for at least 12 to 24 hours to allow the flavors to infuse the meat.

  5. Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C).

  6. Take the marinated pork out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  7. Scatter the roughly chopped onion at the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the marinated pork shoulder on top of the onions.

  8. Pour the chicken broth or water into the roasting pan, ensuring it covers the bottom but not touching the pork skin.

  9. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil to trap the moisture and keep the meat tender.

  10. Roast the Pernil in the preheated oven for about 4 to 5 hours. Baste the pork with its own juices every hour to keep it moist and flavorful.

  11. After the initial roasting time, remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 450°F (230°C).

  12. Continue roasting the uncovered Pernil for an additional 30 minutes or until the skin becomes crispy and golden brown.

  13. Once the Pernil is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

  14. Carve the Pernil into thick slices and serve it with traditional Puerto Rican accompaniments such as arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), tostones (fried green plantains), or a side salad.

Enjoy the rich and flavorful taste of Pernil, a cherished Puerto Rican tradition that brings families together and embodies the essence of the island's culinary heritage. ¡Buen provecho!

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