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Roast Pork Shoulder

Pernil Asado


In other words, this is similar to how your great-grandmother made it back in the day, 'en el campo'!



(1) 5 - 8 pound fresh pork shoulder (pernil)
(also known as 'fresh ham' or 'cali')

2 cloves of garlic per pound of pernil
1 teaspoon of olive oil per pound of pernil
1 teaspoon of salt per pound of pernil
1 teaspoon of black pepper per 5 pounds of pernil
1 teaspoon of oregano per 5 pounds of pernil
1 teaspoon of vinegar per pound of pernil
1 teaspoon of sofrito/recaito per pound of pernil

2 cups of water (to add to roasting pan)

Example for a 6 pound pernil:

12 cloves of garlic
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 Tablespoons of vinegar
2 Tablespoons of sofrito/recaito

2 cups of water (to add to roasting pan)


Preliminary step: Take half of your garlic cloves and slice each one lengthwise, once or twice. Place aside.

1 - Note how many pounds your pernil is. If it is approximately 6 pounds, just use the example above for the quantity of seasonings. Otherwise, see the 'Tips' Section for quick lists for a 5 pound and 7 pound pernil.

2 - Rinse the pork under cold running water.

Prepare the Adobo Rub:

3 - Add the whole garlic cloves (not the ones that you sliced!) to a pilón (morter and pestle). Grind them for a minute or two.

4 - Add the olive oil. Stir and mash again.

5 - Add the salt, black pepper, oregano and the vinegar.

6 - Stir this and grind a little more. It should have a course, but liquid consistency. See the video to get an idea.

Prepare the Meat:

7 - Using a knife, make incisions in the meat, approximately 1 inch wide, and 1 -2 inches deep. Make a total of 20 - 30 slits on all sides of the pernil.

8 - Using the handle of a small teaspoon, take some sofrito and place it into each slit that you've made.

9 - Take a slice of garlic (the ones that you had placed aside earlier), and place one into each of the same slits that now have sofrito or recaito in them.

10- If you have extra garlic slices left, just double up on some of the slits - nothing goes to waste!

11- By the same token, if you don't have enough, not to worry- if you used the recommended amount of garlic, the flavor will carry throughout when you baste the pork later!

12- Take the adobo rub that you prepared in the pilón (morter and pestle) in step 3, and rub all over the pork.

Marinate the meat:

13- Cover the pernil in its roasting pan, or a plastic container, and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. (Or at least a few hours). Note: Do not marinate it in an aluminum pan, since the vinegar in the adobo rub will react with it).

Prepare to cook:

14- Remove the pernil from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you wish to start cooking it, to allow it to start coming up to room temperature.

15- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F), and adjust the oven rack so that it is in the middle, or just below, the middle level.

16- Once the oven is preheated, unwrap the pernil (if you had wrapped it with plastic).

17- Cover the pernil loosely with aluminum foil, or with the roasting pan cover.

18- Place 2 cups of water into the roasting pan, and place the pan on the middle rack in the oven.

Cook the pernil:

19- Cook the pernil for 30 - 35 minutes per pound. Example:

5 lb. pernil = 2½ to 3 Hours
6 lb. pernil = 3 to 3½ Hours
7 lb. pernil = 3½ to 4 Hours

20- After 2 hours of cooking, uncover and baste the roast with a large spoon or turkey baster.

21- Resume cooking, uncovered, for the rest of the cooking time. Baste every 30 minutes.

22- If you start running out of basting juices, just add another cup or two of water to the pan.

Note: The actual cooking time will vary somewhat, but should fall within the range of hours listed above. To further clarify when it is done, follow the steps below.

Your Pernil is cooked when you are in the last half-hour of the cooking time range and:

A- Any juices that come out of the pernil are clear, not pink.

B- A cooking thermometer, inserted deep into the meat, reads 185 - 190 degrees (F).

23- Once the pernil is done, remove from oven and let it rest 15 minutes before carving. This lets it cool slightly, and allows the remaining juices to stay within the roast.



Note: This recipe and others may seem like a lot of steps, but it's very similar to a walk in the park :

-A thousand steps or ten thousand steps are the same if you take just one step at a time.
-Every step is different, but necessary to get you where you're going.
-It can be very relaxing, if you take it easy!
-As a wise person once said, "Even the longest journey begins with a single step".
1- Safety First:

Be extremely careful when handling and basting the hot roast - the fat under the skin, and within the drippings, gets exceedingly hot!

Also, beware of steam as you open the oven door.

2- Use fresh ingredients. Nothing compares to fresh garlic, especially in this recipe!

3- To make a simple gravy when the roast is done:

a) Carefully remove the roast from the pan to a serving platter or carving board.

b) Make sure you have some liquid (drippings) in the bottom of the roasting pan. If you don't, pour 2 cups of hot water into the pan, and stir.

c) Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a small pot or saucepan. If you wish to skim off some fat, let this sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then skim the fat from the top using a spoon.

d) On medium heat, bring this to a slow boil. Season with salt and pepper.

e) Separately, in a small bowl, mix 1 cup of cold water with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. It may seem difficult to stir at first, but it will dissolve.

f) Start stirring the drippings that you have boiling on the stove, and add some of the cornstarch mixture, a little at a time, until you see the drippings start to thicken. Keep stirring, and remove from heat.

g) You now have a silky gravy to serve with the roast!

4- For a crispier skin (chicharrón):

a) When the roast is fully cooked, make sure the top of the roast is at least 4-5 inches from the top of the oven, (remove the pernil from the oven to adjust the rack) and put the oven on "Broil" for 10 minutes. Visually check every minute, so as not to burn the skin- it is fatty, and will burn easily!


b) Raise the temperature to 450 degrees (F) for the last 20 - 30 minutes of cooking. Remove immediately when done.

5- Ingredient amount Quick List:

Example for a 5 pound pernil:

10 cloves of garlic
5 teaspoons of olive oil
5 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of oregano
5 teaspoons of vinegar
5 teaspoons of sofrito

2 cups of water (to add to roasting pan)

Example for a 6 pound pernil:

12 cloves of garlic
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 Tablespoons of vinegar
2 Tablespoons of sofrito

2 cups of water (to add to roasting pan)

Example for a 7 pound pernil:

14 cloves of garlic
7 teaspoons of olive oil
7 teaspoons of salt
1½ teaspoon of black pepper
1½ teaspoon of oregano
7 teaspoons of vinegar
7 teaspoons of sofrito

2 cups of water (to add to roasting pan)


¡Buen Provecho!



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