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The Ultimate Guide to Making Pernil Dominicano

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Hey foodies! It’s been a while since my last blog post, but I promise, I’m back with a bang. I’m currently working on relaunching my website in 2017, so you can expect all my mouthwatering recipes from YouTube to be available there. In the meantime, I couldn’t resist sharing my Dominican Style Pernil Recipe—Roasted Pork Shoulder right here on my website. I’ve been blown away by all the love and recreations of this dish, and now it’s time to spill the beans on how to make it yourself.

A Holiday Delight: Pernil and Its Variations

Pernil is an absolute must-have during the holiday season, especially Christmas. Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans love to feast on pernil in November and December. If you haven’t tried it before, get ready to be amazed because pernil is super tasty. Made from roasted pork shoulder, pernil is tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor. There are countless ways to make pernil, each with its own unique twist. Today, I’m thrilled to share the recipe that my grandmother passed down to me.

Dominican Pernil

Seasoning the Pernil: A Deceptively Simple Art

You might be surprised to learn that this recipe doesn’t require a long list of ingredients. The secret lies in the perfect balance of salt, bitter orange, lime, oregano, and, of course, lots and lots of garlic. Trust me, the more garlic, the better! Seasoning the pernil properly is crucial, as pork shoulder tends to release salt during the cooking process. To avoid ending up with a bland dish, make sure to add a generous amount of salt. Since pork shoulder is a thick piece of meat, it’s important to create small holes in it to allow the marinade to penetrate. When serving the dish, a combination of outside and inside pieces will give you the most flavorful experience.

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Now, when it comes to salt, different recipes may call for different amounts. However, as an experienced pernil maker, I’ve cracked the code. The maximum amount of salt you should use is half the weight of the pork shoulder in tablespoons. For example, if you have a 10lb pernil, 5 tablespoons of salt will do the trick. Using more salt will result in an overly salty dish, but if you prefer a saltier flavor, feel free to adjust accordingly. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend using less than 2 ½ tablespoons of salt (25% of the pernil’s weight) to avoid a bland outcome. After all, nobody wants a dull pork shoulder. So, pay close attention to the weight of your pernil and adjust the salt accordingly.

Boiling the Pernil: The Key to Juiciness

Before we move on to roasting the pernil, there’s an optional step that I highly recommend: boiling the meat for 45 minutes to an hour. This important step ensures a juicy pernil. By boiling the pernil with 1-2 cups of water, you allow the seasonings to penetrate the meat, resulting in a burst of flavors. Plus, it creates a delicious au jus (gravy) that will elevate your dish to new heights. It’s a simple process—after marinating the pernil for 1-2 days, boil it for about an hour. If your pernil is on the larger side, you may need a little more time. Once boiled, transfer the meat to a sturdy pan and start the slow roasting process at 350 degrees.

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Roasting the Pernil: Infusing Flavor and Achieving Crispy Perfection

Now we come to the roasting stage, which is delightfully straightforward. Depending on the size (usually between 7-10lbs) of your pork shoulder, you’ll be roasting it for 4-5 hours. During the first 3 hours, cover the pernil with aluminum foil and roast it. Here’s a crucial tip: remember to baste it every hour to ensure a super juicy pernil. Cooking it covered allows for a rich gravy to form—you won’t believe your eyes!

After 3 hours, baste the pernil one last time and remove 50% of the gravy, setting it aside. At this point, your pernil should be nearly done. How can you tell? The juices flowing from the meat will be clear, and the pernil itself will have a light golden color. The skin won’t be crispy just yet, but don’t worry, we’ll get to that. If the juices aren’t clear after the 3rd hour, continue cooking it covered for another 45 minutes to an hour. Remember not to remove the gravy until the pernil is a light golden color and the juices run clear.

Now, assuming you’ve roasted it covered for 3 hours or a little longer, it’s time to uncover the pernil and let it roast for another hour. This is when the magic happens—the pernil transforms into a light to medium brown color and starts to crisp up. If you’re a fan of crispy skin like me, you can roast it uncovered for a little longer. Don’t worry about sacrificing juiciness because we’ll keep basting it during this last hour.

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If you want to take your pernil to the next level, broil it for 5 minutes or more. This step will give you the coveted chicharron, or super crispy skin! Just be sure to keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.

Feel free to shred the pernil and serve it with a squeeze of lime. If you have any questions, check out my YouTube video here for a step-by-step guide on how to make Pernil Dominicano.

What to Do with the Gravy?

Ah, the tantalizing gravy that we set aside. If your pernil ends up a bit dry during the roasting process, feel free to add some of the gravy. You can also pour a little over the shredded meat for added moisture. Another option is to strain the juice and mix it with melted butter and flour to create a delicious pernil gravy that pairs perfectly with the pork or mashed potatoes. If you’re feeling adventurous, use the juice as a base for a soup or simply discard it. The choice is yours—get creative!

Now, go ahead and enjoy the mouthwatering flavors of Pernil Dominicano. Buen Provecho!

This article has been written exclusively for Ratingperson.

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