I can remember the first time I tasted pernil – it was almost life changing. I remember who made it – Marilyn. Marilyn is an amazing mama, an amazing woman and an amazing cook. That first bite changed everything. It was an explosion of flavor, it was so tender, so succulent. I knew my vegetarian days were long gone……
My prior experiences with pork weren’t so hot. I recall dry, overcooked pork chops. I vaguely remember tough, sliced roasts. Honestly, nothing I’d really want to remember.
So onto my pernil. Over the years I developed my perfect blend of seasoning for my pork roast. Is it traditional? Probably not. On second thought, perhaps it is, considering I don’t know a Puerto Rican woman who makes her pernil the same way as anyone else. Everyone uses different seasonings, everyone has a different way. I know Marilyn would smack me for using vinegar on my pernil.
I prefer to use a bone-in pork shoulder/butt roast – this will without a doubt result in the best roast. Perhaps you’ll notice in my pictures that I did not use a bone-in roast. The boneless roast ended up being $12 bucks cheaper – I love my pernil but this mama is on a budget. I should mention the weight of the roast – I call for a 5 pound roast, but you could easily make a 5-8 pound roast with the amounts in this recipe – you would just have to adjust your cooking times a bit.
So the process really is simple. You should start this the day before you plan on making the roast – it should marinate for about 24 hours. Prep meat by rinsing it off with a few tablespoons of vinegar. Place the roast in the dish you will be marinating it in. Then proceed to stab the roast all over – about 20 times or so. Rub your herbs and spices (which are now like a paste blend) THOROUGHLY all over roast. Get all the sides, all areas and work it into the little stabbed sections. Use all of your marinade – there is no reason to have any left over. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Plan on making your pernil on a day you’ll be home – this is a low and slow cooking process. Place your pernil, fat side up, in an appropriate sized roasting dish. This time I used one of those throw away aluminum roasting dishes – works great! Add about 1 cup of water and cover tightly with aluminum foil. If the roast is too large and peeks over your baking dish, “tent” the foil. Throw it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. About 3 hours in, carefully lift a corner of the foil, checking to make sure there is enough liquid in roasting pan. On average, a 5 pound roast takes about 6 hours to cook for me. It’s ready when the meat falls apart easily – I usually just tear at a corner of the roast with a fork to check it. At this point, you can call it finished, shred it and serve it. Alternatively, you could remove the foil and broil the roast for a few minutes (very carefully – babysit it so you don’t burn it) to get everything a bit brown and get the fat crunchy.
That’s it folks. I keep this meal super simple. I focus on the greatness of the pernil and serve it with white rice and green olives. This is one of my favorite meals. This is officially my daughter’s favorite meal. She had to write a report on her favorite food – take one guess what it was – her mamas pork roast and white rice. I highly recommend this recipe – it’s a must try! It’s about time you liven up thoughts of pork roasts. Hope you enjoy….XOXO
Puerto Rican Style Pork Roast / Pernil
- 5 Pound Pork Shoulder/Butt Roast preferably bone-in
- 3 Tablespoon Adobo Seasoning Scant
- 2 Tablespoon Garlic Powder Scant
- 2 Tablespoon Salt Scant
- 2 Tablespoon Dried Basil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 3 Tablespoon white vinegar + additional to rinse off roast
- 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup water
- Rub and rinse pork roast with a few tablespoons of vinegar.
- Set pork roast in large dish to marinate in.
- With a sharp knife, play Psycho Killer Norman Bates and get to stabbing that roast : )
- Really, though, stab roast throughout - make about 20 cuts.
- Mix spices and herbs together in small mixing bowl.
- Add in olive oil and vinegar. Mix well.
- Rub down pork roast with seasoning "paste". Use all. Rub paste into cuts in meat.
- Marinate, covered, in fridge for about 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 275
- Place pork in appropriate sized roasting pan, fat side up. Add 1 cup water.
- Cover / tent with foil.
- Cook for 5-7 hours depending on size. After a few hours lift corner of foil to make sure there is enough liquid in dish.
- Roast is done when meat falls apart. I take a fork and pull at a corner - if it pulls off easily it's done. 6 hours works perfect for me every time.
- If you prefer - you can broil roast for a few minutes to get some crunch on fat and roast. Totally optional...BUT...watch carefully.
- Shred meat. Serve with rice. Enjoy : )
This sounds really delicious. I pinned for later!
Thanks so much Sarah 🙂
raymond C cepeda
Im making some for christmas eve, and its lookong great thanks for this recipe i am new to cooking and been wanting to cook for my mom, im tired of eating other peoples dry pernil. Ill let you know what tje finished product looks like
Hope the pernil turned out well for you! Wishing you a Merry Christmas & a happy & healthy New Year 🙂
I want to make but don’t have time to marinate for 24 hours. Will that make a difference if make on the same day?
The longer it marinates the better – but I’ve already made this and only had a few hours for it to marinate and it was still delicious!
Hope you enjoy 🙂
If mine comes out ok, then I’ll bet yours was fine too. Your post was a while ago but I literally have a pork roast (boneless) in the oven now. I can not believe what I did! I did marinate for 24 hours but… At the end of the list of ingredients it listed 1 cup of water. Well, without reading on, I mixed the cup of water in with the all the seasonings. I couldn’t figure out why the marinade never got a paste like consistency… until today when I was putting the roast in the oven. The water was to go in the pan NOT in the marinade. I truly messed up but can’t wait to see how it comes out.
Hope it turned out well, Debra. I just shared a pressure cooker pernil recipe with no marinade time: