Pernil (Roast Pork Shoulder, Puerto Rican Style)

6 to 10 servings

At least 5 hours, largely unattended

I’ve adapted this recipe a bit, but it remains little changed from the one generously shared with me many years ago by the family of my friend Peter Blasini. It remains among my favorite treatments for pork shoulder, is a huge crowd pleaser, and is almost no work.


4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 mild fresh chile, seeded (optional)
1 small dried hot red chile (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons peanut or other oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar, orange juice, or lime juice
One 4- to 7-pound pork shoulder or portion of fresh ham, trimmed of excess but not all fat


1. Mix the garlic, onion, oregano, chiles, salt, and pepper together in a food processor, adding the oil in a drizzle and scraping down the sides as necessary (or mince them together on a cutting board). Blend in the wine vinegar.

2. Rub this mixture into the pork well, getting it into every nook and cranny you can find. Put the meat on a rack in a roasting pan and let sit, uncovered, for 1 to 24 hours; refrigerate if the weather is hot or the time is greater than 1 hour or so.

3. Heat the oven to 300°F. Roast the pork for about 3 hours, turning every 30 minutes or so and basting with the pan juices, until it is well done and very tender and the skin is crisp. (The internal temperature should be at least 150°F but no more than 160°F.) Let the meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it up; the meat should be so tender that cutting into uniform slices is almost impossible; rather, whack it up into chunks.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything

Meat & PoultryMark Bittman