International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Pernil al Horno

Pernil al Horno Recipe (Puerto Rican roast pork shoulder)

(Puerto Rican roast pork shoulder)

Image Creative Commons by roland

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In the Puerto Rican countryside, you can often find roadside stands where whole pigs are roasted and plates of the succulent pork (lechón asado) are sold to passers-by. Pernil al horno is the popular homemade version. Pork shoulder is marinated in a flavorful mixture of garlic, oregano and vinegar and then slowly roasted until the meat is almost falling apart.

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • Pork shoulder or butt -- 4 to 6 pounds
  • Olive oil -- 1/2 cup
  • White or red wine vinegar -- 1/3 cup
  • Garlic cloves -- 10 to 12
  • Oregano -- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt -- 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper -- 2 teaspoons
  • Flour -- 3 tablespoons
  • Butter -- 3 tablespoons
  • Water, stock, white wine or beer -- 1 1/2 cups

Method

  1. Cut deep crosshatches in a diamond pattern in the fat covering the pork. Do not cut into the meat itself. Add the oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. This is your marinade, or adobo. Rub the pork all over with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, turning occasionally. Before roasting, let the meat come to room temperature by removing it from the refrigerator a half hour to hour before you put it in the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. and place the roast, fat side down, in a roasting pan just large enough to fit it. Cover the pan with foil, place in the oven and roast for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the foil from the pan and carefully turn the roast fat side up. Place the roast, uncovered, back in the oven and roast for another 2 to 3 hours, or until the roast is very tender and well browned on the outside. Baste the meat with the accumulating pan juices from time to time. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast should read 165°F when it is done.
  4. Remove the roast to a cutting board, cover it lightly with foil and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes while you make the gravy.
  5. Knead the flour and butter together with your fingers to make a doughy paste and set aside in a small bowl. Strain the pan juices from the roasting pan and discard any fat that rises to the surface (there will be a fair amount). Add enough water, stock, wine or beer to the pan juices to make 2 cups.
  6. Bring the pan juices to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk small pieces of the butter-flour paste into the pan juices until the gravy is thickened to your liking. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  7. Slice the roast thinly and serve with the pan gravy on the side.

Variations

  • The adobo marinade is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. The blender or food processor are quicker.
  • Instead of vinegar, use the juice of two sour oranges (naranjas agrias), or the juice of one orange and two limes.