Last Updated July 4, 2016
In Puerto Rico we say that “el amor entra por la cocina” or “love comes in through the kitchen” as a way to say that the girlfriend cooked her way into her man’s heart. My husband grew up in a butcher family so he was raised as a meat lover. Thanks suegra, that made it easy for me! 😉
If you ask me, what’s a traditional Christmas meal, puerto rican pernil or roast pork and arroz con gandules is the one dish that’s top of mind. I remember since I was a child how my parents would teamed up to have the holiday spread ready on time.
My mom would work on the rice and the potato salad and that was “pork master”. And as soon as that pork was roasting in the oven the smell of Christmas would take over in our home. Those were the days!
I told you all this because once I moved to the mainland, I wanted to recreate that sense of Christmas without making a phone call being home sick so my parents would cook and freeze pernil, overnight it just to brighten my days a bit (and they did just that more than once or twice.) Yes, in my book they are the best! When I met my husband (a year later of being by myself) the phone calls changed a bit. I was not
begging asking for comfort food anymore.
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I wanted to impressed him with my cooking “skills” that were pretty much non-existent then. Luckily, I had my secret weapon at the other end of the line: my dad telling me step by step on how to cook a pernil. Once my husband saw the process a couple of times, he urged me to think outside the sazón and use our own spice mix.
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It. Was. Delish! So much so that my sisters started to call me the “pork master”… It was amazing until as you can imagine, dad heard about it! In essence, this is dad recipe without the store-bought adobo or sazón. Well, it’s time to share my secret with y’all! You can thank the husband… because I was not fond of posting this recipe 😉
How to prepare a Pernil or Roast Pork Puerto Rican Style:
- 2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon onion salt
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Chipotle Pepper or cayenne pepper, optional
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 pounds pork shoulder, bone-in
- Mix all the spices with the garlic and the olive oil.
- Using a sharp knife, cut slits into the pork and rub the pork with the spices mixture.
- Place the pork, skin side up, in a roaster (no need to use the rack.)
- Preferably, let the pork marinate overnight or at least 4 hours before cooking in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
- Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Roast uncovered for 3 to 3-1/2 hours in center of the oven.
- Every hour during the cooking, flip the pork over.
- The idea is to cook the pork evenly, and your last flip will have the pork skin side up again.
- At the end, the pork should be at an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing it and enjoy!