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Pork Roast (Pernil al Horno)


This style of pork roast is the traditional holiday meat in Puerto Rico and it's so easy to make. Season meat a day before and roast in the oven for a few hours for tender, delicious, flaky pork roast.

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  • 7 pounds pork shoulder, picnic cut (with fat)
  • 9 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Note: Season the meat one day ahead and refrigerate (if you are short on time just season and cook).


Servings 10
Preparation time 20mins
Cooking time 350mins


Step 1

In a small bowl mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and olive oil. Mix well.

Pat meat 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, leave enough still connected 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.

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 oven for at least 30 minutes before placing the meat inside.
Cook in a 400ºF oven for one hour, then reduce temperature to 300ºF for about 4 hours or so, do not turn meat.

When the meat is done, you can pick on the side with a 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 400ºF 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 to 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 200ºF to keep it warm, DO not 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.

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