Friday, December 4, 2009

The Nine-Hour-Plus-Overnight-Marination Pernil.

Embroidery continues apace, but remind me NEVER to attempt another embroidery project on raw silk.  That fabric is a nightmare... it unravels like crazy and not even pinking shears will prevent it.  Nothing but fusible backing.

After a brief chat with the grocer at our neighborhood White Rose (a really cool Dominican guy who always wants to talk about something interesting and thus who taxes the limits of my Spanish vocabulary... today it was the history of Thanksgiving and the significance of turkey.  I now know how to say "persecuted"--I needed to describe the reason the Pilgrims left England-- which you will be happy to learn is "perseguido".  I think), I passed a display of truly luscious looking pork shoulders.  We have attempted authentic Puerto Rican pernil from time to time, which can best be described as a slow-roasted picnic shoulder, marinated with sour orange, oregano, sofrito, and a boatload of crushed garlic.  My chief problem where pernil is concerned is that I am too impatient and always try to eat it before it's really meltingly soft.  The best pernil I can remember is one Doug made when we were back in our little house in Connecticut... he cooked it overnight and the smell made me want to compose a symphony.

So I'll attempt the following recipe, courtesy of, and let you know how it all turns out.


  • 1 Bone-In Pork Shoulder (5-10 Pounds depending on how many you want to feed, 5 Pounds will feed 4-5 hungry people)
  • 5-8 Cloves garlic, some chopped, some sliced
  • Adobo (or a mixture of garlic power, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and oregano)
  • 1 Bottle of Sour Orange Marinade (or 2 Oranges and 1 Lime OR 1 Cup OJ and 2 Limes)
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped up
  • olive oil
SO the night before you cook the meat (or, if you prefer to not let it sit, then the half hour before you cook the meat):
What to do for the marinade:
  1. Take your big-ass, delish pork shoulder/butt, place it in a baking dish skin-side up and sprinkle it all over w/ adobo (Goya makes a few versions of this that you can keep in your spice cabinet or you can make your own by sprinkling garlic power, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and oregano all over the pork). WHEN I SAY SPREAD IT ALL OVER I MEAN SPREAD IT ALL OVER. Don’t be afraid of putting on too much.
  2. Cut slices of garlic up from about 3 cloves of garlic – make slices thick-ish. (NOTE: If you have the extra time, make a paste out of your garlic by smashing it in a mortar and pestle w/ a bit of salt to aid in the smashing until it has the consistancy of a spreadable paste.) ****NOTE: This recipe uses alot of garlic b/c we love alot of garlic. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, maybe this recipe isn’t the best for you.
  3. Take a sharp knife (a steak knife should be fine) and make 1-inch wide (1 inch deep or so) slits all over the pork, skin and all. Every time you make a slit, slide in a slice of garlic into the slit. It’s best if the garlic goes into the hole all the way. If it doesn’t, again, don’t worry… just make a bit of a deeper slit next time. (NOTE: If you made the garlic paste, then just slide a bit of the paste in each slit instead of the sliced garlic.)
  4. MAKE MARINADE IN SEPARATE BOWL: Add one cup of sour orange juice (again, Goya makes a bottled version, I’m sure it’s not as tasty as the real ones, but sour oranges aren’t around all the time to buy) to 3 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 chopped large onion. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and well as some extra oregano. Mix. (NOTE: You can also substitute sour orange w/ a cup of regular Orange Juice mixed w/ the juice of two limes, or juice of 2 oranges, juice of 1 lime.)
  5. Pour your marinade over your pork. Let sit for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight).
Cooking the Pernil:

  1. Fat side up, place pork in a roasting pan along with the rest of the marinade. Add a bit of liquid if necessary (water or some chicken stock) – so it comes up about 1/2 an inch high. Make sure there’s always some hot liquid at the bottom to mix with the drippings. (This is not necessary – I just liked it this way).
  2. Heat the oven to 475 degrees and cook pork uncovered for 1 hour.
  3. After the hour is over, turn oven down to 275 degrees, tent pork with some tin-foil and cook for 8 to 9 hours on this low setting. (Instead of the quicker cooking of pernil where I recommend a 1/2 hour per pound, this time it’s about an hour or more per pound).
  4. Don’t forget to remove the foil from the top of your pork about 30-40 minutes before your done cooking it. This will crisp up your pork skin only so much. If you are looking to make chicharron by removing the top layer of skin after it’s been cooked (as I did – see first picture, top of post) and frying it up a bit.
  5. Allow to rest for 15 minutes to a half hour before slicing and serving. ENJOY.

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