Chef Daisy Martinez introduced this recipe for Puerto Rican style roasted pork shoulder to my life 10 years ago. It’s traditionally called “perníl”. Cooking for large amounts of people (who have no hang-ups about eating pork) has never been the same again. A wet rub, called Adobo, consisting of garlic paste and other basic ingredients is made using a mortar and pestle. The pork then spends 1 to 3 days marinating in the refrigerator. Yup, this recipe is Daisy’s and I’m spreading the word about how great it is!
This basic technique is shared universally, with countless variations from kitchen to kitchen among Caribbean Latin cooks. Spices and herbs often vary, but my own spin on this succulent, slow rusted meat has been to incorporate the juice of a sour orange (or Seville orange) into the Adobo. Typically, of the popular choice of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. Sour oranges are difficult to locate, but well worth hunting down. Also, it’s common to traditionally to leave the pork skin on and cook it until crispy, but I prefer it skinless.
Once you complete your roasted pork you can do all sorts of fun things with it. It’s great stuffed in jalapeños peppers for party appetizers, put it in tacos, use it as a base for rice dishes such as Rice with Pigeon Peas, or use it as a base my Jollof Rice – Vegan Style if you really want to add meat to a vegan dish.
- 1 pork shoulder
- 10-15 cloves of garlic
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons ground Dominican oregano
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup sour orange juice (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, remove tough skin on pork shoulder and any extreme fat you do not wish to consume. Some fat is okay and preferred, similar to the need for fat marbling in a good steak. Wash pork shoulder thoroughly with water over a sink.
- With a mortar and pestle, crush garlic and kosher salt until a consistent paste is formed with no garlic lumps.
- Thoroughly mix garlic paste, ground oregano, black pepper, sour orange juice and olive oil.
- Using a paring knife, cut several random pockets into the pork shoulder, each about one inch deep, just wide enough to fit 2 fingers. Fill the pockets with Adobo mixture and rub remaining Adobo all over the pork shoulder. Wrap in saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days before cooking.
- For ultimate success, it’s extremely important to remove the seasoned pork from the refrigerator before cooking to allow meat to come to room temperature … at least 1 hour for a small shoulder, 2 hours for a larger roast.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees. For easiest cleanup, line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and place seasoned shoulder in the center. Roast uncovered at 500 degrees for the first 30 minutes to achieve a nice crispy sear. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and roast for an extra 30 minutes per pound until the meat becomes tender and falling apart from the bone easily … usually about 3 1/2 to 4 hours for a large shoulder. Once the pork is in the oven, it’s quite low maintenance with no need to flip, cover or baste. Rendered fat may smoke a little, but no need to worry.