This is an amazing traditional pork roast recipe from Puerto Rico that you’ll want to make again and again. Puerto Rican Pernil Adobo is usually served at Christmas.
One of my favorite things about traveling the world is immersing myself in the local food and flavors. My visit to Puerto Rico last year was filled with scrumptious culinary adventures.
With 270 miles of coastline, Puerto Rico has been featured in the Top 10 beaches from the Travel Channel but Puerto Rico has so much more to offer than some of the best beaches in the world. It’s also an ideal place for adventurous foodies to delight in unforgettable meals.
With a diverse history of original Taino Indian inhabitants to Spanish colonization with African slaves and the ultimate acquisition by the United States, Puerto Rico is a veritable melting pot of cultures.
Being a “stopping point” for many travelers on the way to or from somewhere, some have stayed, providing even more diversity not only in population but of foods and flavors.
One stop on our Spoon food tour was Zest and Mist, located in the trendy, water-themed San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel in Isla Verde. This is where you will find Executive Chef Raul Correa, creating culinary delights that you can barely wait to sink your teeth into.
During our visit, he prepared a spread of traditional Puerto Rican Christmas Recipes for us that still to this day is one of THE BEST meals I have ever had.
They left such an impression on me, that I begged Chef Raul Correa to share his recipes so I could then share them with you.
What is Pernil Asado?
My favorite was the roasted pork shoulder traditionally prepared during the holidays in Puerto Rico. Pernil asado is a slow-roasted marinated pork with a delicious savory garlic crust.
The way it is cooked gives a moist, flavorful roast that isn’t dry at all!
Some pork adobo recipes you might find online call for orange juice, black pepper or garlic, oregano and a food processor. You may be thinking, how come this isn’t in your pernil recipe?
Honestly, I don’t have a great answer for you except that it just isn’t! Chef Raul’s recipe is an authentic Puerto Rican recipe and it’s a dry rub so there is no need for orange juice. Some recipes may be incorporating sofrito as well – you can find out more about this below.
What goes with Pernil Asado?
Traditionally, pernil is served with rice and beans. Chef Correa prepared these other dishes to go with our traditional Puerto Rican Christmas Dinner feast:
- Bacalaitos Fritos (salted codfish fritters)
- Pasteles (pork tamal wrapped in banana leaf)
- Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas)
- Potatas (potatoes)
- Coquito (drink)
If you’re tired of trying to think of creative turkey recipes, avoiding burning your house down trying to deep fry a turkey, or can’t stand the thought of eating ham sandwiches for the rest of the year from your Thanksgiving leftovers – this is the perfect recipe to switch up your holiday dinner.
How long to cook pernil?
The key to getting this juicy roast cooked to perfection is to let the dry rub sit on the meat for at least 12 hours. I like to refrigerate overnight. Just don’t let it marinate for more than 24 hours.
Then be sure to follow the cooking directions and start off roasting the pork shoulder pernil at 400 to sear in the juices and form a nice crust, then lower the temperature for a nice slow cook throughout until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
Do I really need to use this much salt?
First of all, this recipe comes straight from chef so I’m sure he’s made the Adobo Spice Rub part intentionally way more than you need as he would likely be making several pork shoulders a day, right?
The Adobo Rub original recipe calls for a large quantity of each spice – notably 1 2/3 cups of kosher salt. To put it in perspective, you will end up with about 5 cups of Adobo Spice mix and need to use only about 1 cup (perhaps less).
Chef recommends using 1 cup of the rub but I ended up using about 1/2 cup. Don’t worry – you end up removing the excess before you cook so this doesn’t turn out as salty as you think! Plus the salt is the secret to a crispy crust.
Personally, I love having it in the spice cupboard, ready to use any time. I store it in a large Tupperware container and have found a ton of uses for it! (It’s basically homemade delicious seasoned salt). It makes an excellent BBQ Rib rub, is delicious on corn on the cob, popcorn, steak, shrimp, roasted vegetables, baked chicken – you can use it on pretty much anything!
But I certainly understand if you don’t want to make so much – so feel free to halve the ingredients for the Adobo Spice Rub portion like so:
1/2 portion of Adobo Rub (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup ground coriander
1/2 cup onion powder
3/4 tbsp coarse ground coriander seeds (use a coffee grinder on whole seeds)
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tbsp ground annatto (achiote powder)
How to cook pernil?
It really isn’t very difficult cook authentic Puerto Rican Pernil. Just follow Chef’s recipe below and let me know if you have any questions.
I was surprised when I first tried this recipe once I got home because it was so easy….almost too easy. But it came out perfectly and it was just as good as I remembered it.
Important: Be sure to purchase pork shoulder for the best result. I have tried making this with pork butt and it just didn’t turn out quite the same.
Can you make this ahead of time and freeze or freeze the leftover pork?
Absolutely! While this dish is best served fresh on the day it is baked, if you need to freeze it, you can do so safely in a covered airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bags.
I recommend carving it from the bone and freezing in smaller serving proportions that you will eat in a sitting. It will be easier and faster to thaw (always thaw in the refrigerator) and reheat.
When properly stored in the freezer, frozen Pork is best eaten within about 2 to 3 months, but will remain safe beyond that time too.
How long does cooked pork roast last after being frozen and thawed?
Frozen cooked pork roast that has been thawed in the fridge can be kept for an additional 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before cooking. If you thaw your frozen pork roast in the microwave or in cold water, it needs to be eaten immediately.
How do you make sofrito?
You will notice on the picture above that there is a delicious looking minced garlic and cilantro oil on the pernil. That, my friends, is sofrito. It’s a puree that is widely used in Caribbean cooking, especially in Puerto Rico.
Sofrito is a flavor bomb of peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro and oil blended together to make a sauce or puree. For the complete experience, I highly recommend making it too.
Chef Raul was kind enough to provide his personal Puerto Rican sofrito recipe. You can find it here. Beware, this sauce is incredibly addicting and you’ll find yourself drenching everything in sight with it!
Puerto Rican Pernil Adobo Recipe
- 7 lb. Pork shoulder with fat cap left on
- 1/2 – 1 cup Adobo Rub (See below)
Adobo Rub (makes about 5 cups)
- 1 2/3 cup kosher salt
- 1 1/8 cup garlic powder
- 1/2 cup ground cumin
- 1/2 cup ground coriander
- 1 1/8 cup onion powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp coarse ground coriander seeds (use a coffee grinder on whole seeds)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp ground annatto (achiote powder)
Mix all ingredients for Adobo Rub and keep in a cool dry place. This recipes makes quite a bit so you will have lots left over to use for other things like chicken or steak!
Generously rub adobo spice mix all over the pork. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (max. 24 hrs.)
Take pork out of the fridge one hour before roasting.
Remove excess salt by brushing it off with your hands into the sink (or you could even give it a quick rinse under the faucet). Let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven 400°F.
Put pork in a roasting pan (fat cap face up) and cook for 45 minutes at 400. You won’t need to cover the roast unless you purchased a shoulder without a fat cap, or unintentionally cut it off. Then you’ll want to cover it with aluminum foil.
Turn the oven temperature down to 250°F and cook for 90 to 120 minutes or until the pork reaches 145°F degrees in the center.
Carve with a sharp knife and pull apart pieces – serve while hot!
A very big thank you to Chef Raul Correa for sharing this delightful meal and his recipe.
Please enjoy this authentic Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe and be sure to let me know how it turns out for you! Who knows, this authentic Puerto Rican Rernil Asado Recipe just might become the new holiday dinner tradition in your home?Print