Pernil: Latin Twist Recipe


Pernil with DogfishTapas are not typical Father’s Day fare; most dads seem to yearn for something a bit more hearty.

Well, mis queridos amigos, pernil, Puerto Rican-style roast por shoulder, certainly fits the bill! This recipe is one that guarantees a fabulously fragrant, juicy, and tasty one! (Sorry veggie dads; this one is so not for you…but you could use this same marinade to roast some meaty portobellos, and serve ‘em on a bed of tomato and bean rice—or quinoa! Many possibilities there, too!)

This recipe is a favorite of my dad’s—and my husbands! (So, yes, you know it will be plated on Sunday!) It’s served atop Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican-style rice and black beans), and accompanied by my husband’s favorite IPA, Dogfish Head Ale!  (My dad would prefer it with a glass of wine, like a sangiovese…or maybe a malbec!)

However you decide to serve it, enjoy! ¡Buen provecho!

Latin Twist: Pernil para Papá!

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

This tasty roast pork dish is great for a crowd! It's also wonderful for sandwiches (and more!) the next day, if you have any left over!


  • 8 pounds pork shoulder
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 8 teaspoons salt


  1. Rinse the pork shoulder with water.
  2. With a sharp knife, make 1 inch deep cuts into the pork.
  3. Using a food processor (or mortar and pestle!), crush the garlic, oregano and black pepper together.
  4. Add the olive oil, vinegar and salt.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Spoon some of the garlic mixture inside the small cuts around the pork, and spread the remaining mixture as evenly as you can, all over the pork.
  7. Place the pork in large baking pan (skin side up) and cover tightly. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, and up to 24.
  8. When you're ready to cook, cover your pernil with foil, and bake it pre-heated 325-degree F oven for about 5 to 6 hours.
  9. Remove aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for another hour or until the skin (chicarron!) is crisp.
  10. Pork should be well-done and fork tender!
  11. Serve on a platter with bits of chicharron (the crispy skin) on the side.



About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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