April 5, 2013

pernil ~ Puerto Rican roast pork

One of the most comforting kitchen moments for me is the aroma of pork roasting in the oven. In the Philippines, the most popular version of roast pork is lechon, a whole pig roasted over hot coals in an outdoor pit. When served, it becomes the highlight of festive celebrations. Roasted meat of any kind has universal appeal. Take a big chunk of meat, slow roast it for a few hours and with plenty of patience, you will be rewarded with a most flavorful, succulent and fall-off-the-bone kitchen creation. I was planning to get a picnut cut pork shoulder for this project but ended up with a pork shoulder blade instead. Both cuts are ideal for roasting, however, the picnic cut is preferable with the skin or rind left on. It has more fat than the pork shoulder blade roast. More layers of fat melting during the cooking will result in a very tender and moist pork.

slow roasted pork shoulder swimming in the rendered fat
This Puerto Rican version of slow roasted pork shown above is called pernil. It's best marinated overnight in the refrigerator for maximum flavor. I also found a recipe video with lots of tips and techniques. I used about 10 cloves of garlic for this 6-pound pork. I also added half a tablespoon of sazon, a Latin American seasoning mix, to the rest of the ingredients.

After the long cooking process (5-6 hours) and resting the pernil for about 30 minutes, it was very easy to just use a fork to pull the meat. Tender chunks of pernil are shown above served with a black bean side dish and steamed rice. The rice was tossed in a little bit of the flavorful drippings from the roast. Fried plantains may be served to complete the meal.

leftover pernil turned out good for tacos the next day
I found this basic pernil recipe from the Saveur website which I used as a guide but I reduced the amount of garlic. I also used lime juice combined with a little vinegar. A combination of fresh orange and lime juice with the zest will work just as well. There were plenty of leftovers which were perfect for tacos the next day.

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