Traditional Puerto Rican “Pernil Horneado” – Roast Pork


Pernil, Puerto Rican Style roast pork is a typically served for the Holidays, with “Tostones” (fried green bananas) and “Arroz con Gandules” (rice and pigeon peas) on the side. The whole trick to a perfect roast is low and slow cooking. Also do not cover the roast while cooking or the skin will not get crispy. Buen provecho.(enjoy)


1 – 8 to 10 pound picnic pork shoulder – (bone in)

3 tbsp. salt or 1 tsp. / pound

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried cilantro

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. ground cumin

6 cloves garlic peeled

1 large green pepper (coarsely chopped)

1 medium yellow onion (coarsely chopped)

1 lemon or lime (juiced)

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil


Wash pork shoulder under cold running water. Dry with paper towels and place on cutting board skin side up. Using a sharp knife cut through the skin to create a diamond pattern. Place remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree. (This marinade is called Mojo and is also used on steaks, chicken and fish) Place pork into a large Zip-lock plastic bag and pour the marinade from the blender into the bag and seal. The pork shoulder should then be marinated in the refrigerator for 2 days for maximum flavor.  Turn over the bag occasionally to move the marinade around.

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Remove pork from bag and shake off excess marinade and discard. Place the pork shoulder on a rack with the skin side up in a deep sided roasting pan. Wipe marinade off the skin using a paper towel (this keeps the marinade from burning while roasting the pork). Add 1 inch of water to roasting pan to keep pan juices from burning.



Place the uncovered roast in oven and cook for 5 hours (30 minutes/pound) or if using a probe thermometer until roast reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees. To test the pork for doneness I use a fork to pull away a piece of meat, it should shred easily. Now check skin for desired crispness. If skin is still too soft you can get crisper skin by raising temperature up to 400 degrees but watch it closely because it will  burn quickly if not watched. When desired crispness is achieved remove roast from oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.


Puerto Rican Roast Pork (Pernil Horneado) and Arroz con Gandules (Spanish Rice with Pigeon Peas)

This New Years Eve I am hosting a small party at my house. I decided to make a Puerto Rican favorite for my guests, Pernil Horneado (Puerto Rican Roast Pork) served with Arroz con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas). My family always makes this meal for holidays and special occasions. I am serving it buffet style so I can enjoy the party.  I marinate the pork 1 day ahead of time and slow roast it in a Dutch oven. I try to time the roast to be finished just as my guests are arriving. The aroma the pork creates in the house is amazing and is what reminds me of the holidays.
Puerto Rican Roast Pork (Pernil Horneado)

6-8 pound Boston Butt (bone in)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp dried cilantro
1/2  tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
6 cloves peeled garlic

1 large green pepper (coarsely chopped)
½ med onion (coarsely chopped)
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp orange juice
4 tbsp light olive oil

Rinse pork with cold water. Then dry completely with paper towels. Put remaining ingredients in small food processor and pulse until it become a smooth paste. Place pork butt into a 1 gallon zip lock bag and pour in the marinade. Seal bag and rub marinade into the meat. Place bag in refrigerator for 24 hours. Turn bag and rub in marinade a few times during the 24 hours. Remove bag from refrigerator ½  hour before cooking and set on counter to reach room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Place pork into large Dutch oven fat side up and pour excess marinade over top. Cover Dutch oven with the lid and place in the center of the oven. Cook the pork for 4 hours (do not remove lid).  When pork is done remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before opening lid. Open lid and remove the bone with tongs (it should pull out easily). Leave pan juices in pan. The pork should shake like Jell-O. Place pork on cutting board and chop it into chunks then shred  the pork with a fork and place on a serving platter. Add ½ cup of water to pan and  cook on stove top at low heat and scraping bottom of pan for 2 minutes then pour liquid into a large measuring cup and let rest for 1 minute to let the fat rise to the top. Ladle some of the fat from the measuring cup reserving the meat juice. Pour remaining liquid over the pork.

Arroz con Gandules (Spanish Rice with Pigeon Peas)

1 medium onion coarsely chopped
1 green pepper coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper quartered and seeded
½  tsp dried cilantro
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/8 cup light olive oil
1  8 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 can pigeon peas (do not drain)
2 cups long grain rice

Place onion, green pepper, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil into food processor and puree. Place puree into large oven-proof pot and heat over medium flame for 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth and pigeon peas to pot and bring to a boil. Add rice to pot and cook uncovered until water level drops below the rice. Remove pot from heat. Cover the pot and place into 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. When done remove pot from oven and let rest (covered) for 5 minutes. Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork.