Recipe: Pernil al Horno

How can you cook the best pernil ever?

The number one rule is to do it the old fashioned way and don’t change a thing.

It’s the traditional holiday meat and it’s EASY as 1 – 2 – 3!

If need to take a dish to a gathering take this. It costs a little more but it so simple to make and it is so
dramatic! Everyone will say you are a great cook.

Buy a pork “shoulder picnic cut.” Notice it has a nice layer of fat or cuero on
top. If you don’t find this particular piece then buy any large chunck of pork. This is the prefered cut
because it has the fat on top to make cueritos.

All it needs is lots of garlic (powder is ok), black papper, oregano, and salt. Sprinkle the meat and bake.

How easy is that?

Note: Season the meat one day ahead and refrigerate (if you are short on time just season and cook).

7 lbs. pork shoulder – picnic cut (with fat)
9 garlic cloves (You may use powder garlic or ground garlic sold in glass jars – 1 tsp. equals one clove.)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed oregano
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoon salt

Crush the garlic in a pilón. If you don’t have a pilón (shame on you!) crush the whole garlic with the side of
a wide knife then dice the pieces. In a small bowl mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and olive
oil. Mix well.

Wash the meat and pat dry.

With a sharp knife cut the fat away from the meat, leaving an edge attached and keeping it all in one piece. Start at the wide end and go to the narrow end. You don’t have to separate it completely – just leave enough still conected so that you can flip the fat over to the side while you season the meat itself. The fat will be placed over the seasoned meat and will cook over the meat giving it more flavor. Season the side of the fat that goes over the meat with a bit of the seasoning also – just that one side by running your hand on it. The other side – the top – should only have salt. Make very deep slits all over the meat and season the meat making sure that seasoning goes into all the slits. Put the fat back over the meat to look the same as before it was cut and sprinkle it with salt.

Refrigerate the shoulder, covered with plastic wrap, for 24 hours (if you are short on time bake at this
time)

Let the meat get back into room temperature before cooking, if it was refrigerated. (About one hour).
Place the meat in a deep pan with the fat side up. There will be a lot of grease so be sure to use a deep
pan that is at least 2″ deep. The fat side up will make nice crunchy “cueritos.” Do NOT cover with foil.
Preheat the over for at least 30 minutes before placing the meat inside. Cook in a 400º oven for one hour,
then reduce temperature to 300º for about 4 hours or so – DO NOT TURN MEAT. When the meat is done,
you can prick it on the side witha fork to see if it shreds. If the “cuerito is not crispy enough for your
satisfaction, then leave it in the oven and raise the temperature again to 400º and cook another 15 or so
until it is crispy. It will crisp fast so keep your eye on it.

Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest on the counter for about 20-30 minutes before carving.
To carve, remove the cuerito completely and set aside. Carve the meat and then cut the cuerito into
pieces and place over the meat. If you’re going to take this to a party put it in an oven-safe container and
put it back in a 200º to keep it warm, DON’T COVER IT because the crispy cueritos will get soft if you do.

Cut the cuerito and serve meat with a piece of cuerito on each place. Enjoy!

Tips . . . If using a meat thermometer, it will be ready when it reaches 185ºF.

Grill instructions
In the summer we cook our pernil outside on the grill. We do this to prevent the house from heating up.
Follow all the instructions above. Put your pernil in a deep pan. But do cover with foil to prevent burning
the meat – this means no cueritos. Put the pan on the grill. Cook a bit longer than if using the oven. Cook
on high for the first half hour and then on low heat. Keep your eye on it.

Should you have any leftover meat you can make a stir fry with left over rice and the meat. Or – make
pernil tacos. Yum!

Dice up the leftover meat.