Easy and Cheap – I Like My Men Like I Like My Food (Pernil)



When preparing to bring dinner over our friends house for 6 adults, I scratched my head and couldn’t help but thinking, “What can we make that’s cheap?”. Pork shoulder, baby! The Puerto Ricans call slow roasted pork shoulder pernil. For days worth of a variety of meals, I advise you give it a whirl. Not to mention, a 5-7 pound of bone-in pork shoulder costs less than $1.99 a pound (that adds up to only $10-$14 for a whole pork shoulder!). And, if you have the time to marinate it over night… whoa, joey, watch out. It’s worth extra bit of work. Oh, and as a bonus treat, you get the amazing, crispy pork fat/skin (chicharrón) as an extra thing to chomp on. For the best chicharron results, you really should cut off lumps of the skin w/ the fat underneath (after your shoulder has been cooked) and fry up separately in a cast iron skillet/pan. You can also buy pork belly and make the chicharron only – see this great recipe: http://nikas-culinaria.com/2005/12/26/chicharron-deep-fried-pork-belly-how-to/

So, let’s pretend you buy the pork butt and have the time to marinate it overnight. The prep is super easy, so think ahead and do this. If you don’t… the flavor of the marinade will not come through as much in the meat, but your skin will be delish.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 Bone-In Pork Shoulder (5-10 Pounds depending on how many you want to feed, 5 Pounds will feed 3-4 hungry people)
  • 5-8 Cloves garlic, some chopped, some sliced
  • Adobo (or a mixture of garlic power, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and oregano)
  • 1 Bottle of Sour Orange Marinade (or 2 Oranges and 1 Lime OR 1 Cup OJ and 2 Limes)
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped up
  • olive oil

SO the night before you cook the meat (or, if you prefer to not let it sit, then the half hour before you cook the meat):

  1. Take your big-ass, delish pork shoulder/butt, place it in a baking dish skin-side up and sprinkle it all over w/ adobo (Goya makes a few versions of this that you can keep in your spice cabinet or you can make your own by sprinkling garlic power, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and oregano all over the pork). WHEN I SAY SPREAD IT ALL OVER I MEAN SPREAD IT ALL OVER. Don’t be afraid of putting on too much.
  2. Cut slices of garlic up from about 3 cloves of garlic – make slices thick-ish. (NOTE: If you have the extra time, make a paste out of your garlic by smashing it in a mortar and pestle w/ a bit of salt to aid in the smashing until it has the consistancy of a spreadable paste.) ****NOTE: This recipe uses alot of garlic b/c we love alot of garlic. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, maybe this recipe isn’t the best for you.
  3. Take a sharp knife (a steak knife should be fine) and make 1-inch wide (1 inch deep or so) slits all over the pork, skin and all. Every time you make a slit, slide in a slice of garlic into the slit. It’s best if the garlic goes into the hole all the way. If it doesn’t, again, don’t worry… just make a bit of a deeper slit next time. (NOTE: If you made the garlic paste, then just slide a bit of the paste in each slit instead of the sliced garlic.)
  4. MAKE MARINADE IN SEPARATE BOWL: Add one cup of sour orange juice (again, Goya makes a bottled version, I’m sure it’s not as tasty as the real ones, but sour oranges aren’t around all the time to buy) to 3 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 chopped large onion. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and well as some extra oregano. Mix. (NOTE: You can also substitute sour orange w/ a cup of regular Orange Juice mixed w/ the juice of two limes, or juice of 2 oranges, juice of 1 lime.)
  5. Pour your marinade over your pork. Let sit for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight).


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rub some olive oil over the pork and pork skin.
  3. Put pork in oven, skin-side up, cover w/ aluminum foil and bake for about 4-5 hours, depending on size of pork. (I’d say allow about a half hour per pound in baking time if using bone-in pork – but remember, the best thing about a pork shoulder is that it gets better the longer you cook it. Just don’t burn that skin.)
  4. After about an hour and a half, check how much liquid remains in the pan – add a cup of water to the pan if you are low. Check every 30-45 minutes to make sure the liquid level remains about at least 1/2 ” deep. The pan drippings will mix with this and make a nice gravy.
  5. About 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the aluminum foil to crunch up that delicious pork skin. ***NOTE: Thanks to WANF reader/recipe-tryer Emilee, 20 minutes may not be long enough to crunch up the skin enough. This will depend on your oven (and your taste). I would advise to keep looking at the roast after you remove the aluminum foil and when it looks brown and crispy, it’s done. Could be anywhere from 20 -35 minutes.
  6. After you remove the pork from the oven, let it rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Slice it up or shred it with your fork! ENJOY.

Some of the delightful and CHEAP meals you can make with one 10 pound pork shoulder (you can stretch this especially if there’s only 2 or 3 of you eating) are:

  • shredded pork tacos (add them to some warmed corn or flour tortillas and top w/ your fave toppings)
  • sliced pernil with a side of black beans and rice
  • cuban sandwiches (slice up some pernil, add it to some thick, Cuban bread with some swiss cheese, mustard and thinly sliced pickles)
  • tomato, corn and shredded pernil rice baked with cheese (I’m going to try this tonight and I’ll let you know how it turns out! (**UPDATE: It was good, easy to make and filling)
  • pernil and potato stew

The possibilites are endless! We’ll add more pernil recipes in postings to come. Until then, experiment and enjoy.

12 thoughts on “Easy and Cheap – I Like My Men Like I Like My Food (Pernil)

  1. MMMM… i just tried this recipe… it is soo yummy.. except i used a 2 pound pork shoulder ( since it’s just me and my husband)

    It didn’t come out all brown except for parts of the skin and i left it in for 1 1/2 hours and i did take off foil 20 min before it was done…. but anyways!.. it was delicious!!! mmm… served it with some rice with red beans in it. One things for sure YOU HAVE TO LOOOOVE GARLIC! to enjoy this dish… we do, so it was heaven.. of course i used a little less i used 1 orange and 1 lime and 2 cloves of garlic inside the meat.. then another clove in the sauce…then a TON of cloves for garlic paste which i put a tiny bit on top of the slices…
    LOL then me and my husband kept annoying each other with our breath and saying it’s our defense mechanism from the vampires…. you know cuz it’s close to Halloween?… >.>

    lol anyways ^^ easy simple full of flavor dish.. next time i want to cook it a little longer for a crunch

  2. Hi, Emilee! Thank you so much for giving this a whirl! Many times, i just cook and don’t use recipes, so I kind of did this one by memory. I’m glad to hear that it’s not too off. Usually, I’ll take the foil off and keep looking at it until it looks like the color I’m looking for. So, it prob. is longer than 20 mins. I think I’ll update this post and credit you with reminding us all of that! The crunchy skin is the best bit! But we DO love garlic… and you’re right, you either have to be single and NOT going out to meet guys for like a week or in a very loving relationship where you’re both eating it in order to not be bothered by the lasting garlic breath. But thank you SO much for giving this a whirl. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  3. Hey, they call it pernil? That’s interesting because it’s the Catalan word for ham, as ordered a million times a day in Barcelona.

    Anyway, the recipe looks scrumptious and has been bookmarked for future scoffing. Thanks!

  4. Hey Tom,

    that is interesting. Do Catalan’s use it for jamon (iberico/serrano) or plain boiled ham (jamon york) or just as a general all purpose term for ham? we’re currently obsessed with jamon (of all kinds) again, after returning from Madrid recently, so your comment is even more topical!

    thanks for visiting our site and if/when you do make this pernil, drop us a line and let us know how it went, if you wouldn’t mind.

    Take it easy,

    Jonny & Amy

  5. well I come from a Cuban family. and I used a lil bit more ingridients such as.. bay leaves, oregano, garlic, green peppers, adobo, whole cumin.. a bit of thyme.. sour orange, lime juice and a tad of vinegar i did this all by memory when my mom showed me i was about 8 years old. I will be glad to give the exact measurements of the rub.

  6. hey, ness. thanks for the comment! would love to hear how you do yours! always open to improvement that’s for sure!


  7. When I was kid, Christmas was spent in New York and all the family would get together. This was one of my favorite part of the Christmas meal. I loved it so much that I had to learn how to make it. Now that I’m older and don’t always get to visit the family back east, I’m glad that I learned how to make this because I couldn’t find any decent versions when I moved to Atlanta. I so love this with Greens and Mac & Cheese.
    Merry Christmas to all.

  8. I am making this as I type. I ad-libbed a small bit on the marinade; didn’t have white vinegar but, had balsamic instead…we’ll see. I am near the end of it and raised the heat and am now cooking it to crisp the skin. It’s been a half hour and the skins is still very soft except along the edges, so I’ll cook it as long as it takes for the skin to get crispier. Thanks for the recipe. I am from Brooklyn NY and had this a looong time ago at friends. I loved it and missed it, so I learned to make it myself as a bachelor. Since I’ve been married I have made it several times and my wife loves it.
    Marry Christmas and happy holidays to all!

  9. After consulting all of my Puerto Rican friends at work, I decided to make a Pernil along with our turkey for Thanksgiving. That same consult had my HEAD SPINNING as for the “Best Pernil Recipe” and decided on yours!
    It’s in the oven at 450 Convection, (6AM) and I wil proceed with your “Low and Slow” recipe after that! If there are any “Chicharon” issues at the end, I’ll fire up the Broiler! Otherwise, I’m hoping all goes well! Thanks for posting! The plan is in effect….I’ll post the result later!

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