Cuban Roast Pernil: Pork Shoulder

I have always wanted to make a Cuban pork shoulder, with sour orange juice, lots of garlic and oregano and spices, but there were so many different recipes out there that I became confused.

I finally decided on Jonny and Amy's recipe, because their recipes never fail.

Pernil translates to HAM in Catalan. Catalan is the language of Barcelona, not to be confused with Spanish (jamon) what the rest of Spain calls it.

My dilemma: to cover the pork or not to cover. If you are lucky enough to find a pork shoulder (also known as a Boston Butt, which I like saying better) with the skin on it, then what you are going for is crispy skin and succulent meat. Since I was not able to find skin on my butt, I cooked it covered with foil.

You want a lot of garlic and seasoning here, so don't be scared with the amounts. You cut little slits all over the butt and tuck slices of garlic deep inside the cuts. Marinate in a simple sour orange juice (which you can buy at Latino markets or just make yourself with a cup of orange juice and juice of 2 limes).

I prepared this one day ahead so the pork had time to meet his garlic and seasoning friends and sit in the acidic marinade.

I served the Pernil with chopped brussels sprouts that I threw into the roasting pan with the pan drippings and cooked on the stove so they were glazed and wonderful. A splash of balsamic vinegar on them at the end made them sing.

Pernil (Roast Puerto Rican or Cuban Pork Shoulder): (adapted from We Are Never Full)

5-8 lb. bone in pork shoulder (preferably w/ skin on)
5-8 cloves garlic, sliced (you will need more garlic for the marinade)
a mixture of garlic power, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, kosher salt and oregano (I used about 2 tbsp of each dried spice to make the adobo mixture)
1 bottle of sour orange marinade (or 1 cup of orange juice and 2 limes)
1 onion, chopped up
3 minced garlic cloves
olive oil

Mix the orange and lime juice with the onions and 3 minced garlic cloves in a bowl. This is your marinade.

Place the pork butt in the a large roasting pan.

Make deep cuts in the pork butt all over and tuck the garlic slices deep inside the meat. Rub all over with olive oil.

Using your hands, season the pork liberally with the dried spice mixture. Cover the entire piece of meat. You can not have too much garlic or spices on this thing. The more the better.

Slowly pour the juice onion marinade over the pork and around it. Season again with more kosher salt and pepper and oregano.

Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight, or for 24 hours.

To cook the pork: the rule of thumb is usually about 1 hour per pound.
I had a 5 lb. shoulder, so I cooked it at 350F for 4 hours covered with foil, then turned the heat down to 300F and cooked it another hour uncovered. It may seem a bit long, but the longer you cook this, the better it gets. You can even turn the heat down to 300 and cook it all day. Your house is going to smell delicious, just a warning.

I basted it the last hour (uncovered) continuously and it turned out a beautiful glazed, succulent meat that fell off the bone.

We had pulled pork w/ BBQ sauce and Cuban roast pork sandwiches w/ pickles and Gruyere for lunch with the leftovers all week.

A great and inexpensive Sunday dinner that feeds a crowd. Enjoy!

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amy @ wanf said…
hey, stace!

thank for the recipe try! I am SUPER curious how it turned out since your butt didn't have a layer of fat/skin. It looks really great in the pics but I've never actually used the recipe for a butt w/o skin!

Thanks again!
amy and jonny
Stacey Snacks said…
A & J,
It was better than fabulous.
How's that for review????

Ciao Chow Linda said…
This cut of meat is so underrated but so delicious and inexpensive. I have a 12-hour recipe for one that i haven't made inages. the flavorings on yours sound divine.
Food Jaunts said…
Love! I just discovered Cuban pork (where had it been all my life?!) last year and became absolutely obsessed with it. Definitely going to have to give your recipe a shot - look delish
This recipe looks sooo good. I'm going to give it a try this weekend when my friends are visiting. I'm sure they will all love it. :-)
A long time ago I had a friend from Cuba who used to regale me with stories about this dish....It always sounded wonderful and now I have a real recipe! I'll be sure to make - after my cleanse and fast...Thanks Stacie. Happy weekend.
I love all the flavors Stace, loads of garlic and great spices, I will remember this for summer parties!
LauraNorthernCA said…
Thank you for singing the praises of pork shoulder / Boston butt. I have two young kids and they could eat it at least once a week, prepared any one of a number of ways. This recipe looks tasty...
Marry me! Oh how I love pork shoulder. I'm planning to do one for Easter, although not a Latin variation.

My sister-in-law used to make this before my niece and nephew were born when she had more time. I remember she made it for her own wedding shower. My stepmgrandmother's Guatemalan health aide once made this for SG's birthday party and it included that crispy skin. Oh how my arteries clogged with joy! I think if I had skin on my roast my mother would freak on me though.
Christine said…
Stacy this looks incredibly good! Reminds me of the fresh ham/pork roast my Danish aunt sometimes made for Easter. Cooked all day with it's thick skin. By supper the skin was cut off into strips and called "cracklins". Completely addicting! Thanks for the recipe!!
Christine said…
Stacy this looks incredibly good! Reminds me of the fresh ham/pork roast my Danish aunt sometimes made for Easter. Cooked all day with it's thick skin. By supper the skin was cut off into strips and called "cracklins". Completely addicting! Thanks for the recipe!!
Oui, Chef said…
There is nothing tastier than a well-cooked Boston Butt. Love the bold flavors at work here, and am totally digging your choice of nail color.
Kitty B said…
If the general instructions are 1 hour per 1/2 pound, and you had a 5 lb shoulder, shouldn't you have cooked it for 10 hours?
Stacey Snacks said…
I have corrected the cooking time, which varies.
I cooked mine about 1 pound per hour.
You have to keep checking it for doneness. It should fall off the bone.

Thanks, Stacey
Anonymous said…
Made this for the guys at the fire station. They love it! Cooked it at 325 all day. Put it in at 7 am. Actually cooked two, 9 lb picnic shoulders. Came out great...