I make pernil almost twice a month for my family. Everyone loves it, and it’s economical. Pernil is a pork shoulder that is slow roasted with Puerto Rican spices. Our neighborhood is a great place to buy the pork shoulder; the customers want a pernil that has lots of fat in it and a thick layer of skin on one side. If you buy a pork shoulder in a fancier neighborhood, it will be too lean and trimmed too close to be of any use to me. I don’t pretend that my pernil is authentic. True Puerto Rican style would be to cook the pernil so that you can eat the chewy skin. I braise it. I also don’t make my own sofrito. I’m not a good Puerto Rican, but I get a pass because my Southern roots blend well with that cuisine in a few crucial ways.

Here’s my process.

Pork shoulder, Sazon Ranchero, three packets of Sazon powder, Adobo powder.

I cut a slit along the top of the skin and cut a big pocket in between the skin and fat and the meat.

Cutting a pocket in between the meat and the fat/skin

I put Adobo powder, Sazon powder (both Goya) all over the shoulder and plenty in the pocket. Then I squirt as much Sazon Ranchero liquid into the pocket that it can hold, squishing it around so it gets all the way down into the bottom of the pocket.

Squirting Sazon Ranchero into the pocket and squishing it all around.

Add a dribble of vinegar to the bottom of the pan, then I put it in the oven at 9am at 200 degrees.

A bit of vinegar before it goes in the oven.

At 6:30pm, I take it out and suck all the pot juices out with a turkey baster. That liquid gold will be used to cook the rice. (I also put some in the small colorado beans that I have simmering with diced carrots and onions.) Then, I pull off the skin and pull out the big bone from the shoulder, and serve the pernil in a big bowl with tongs.

Rice n beans and pernil

I put lots of hot sauce on my pernil. Ω

Lots of Frank’s Hot Sauce for me, please!