Monday, February 13, 2012

Cooking: Pernil

At the most recent FBM potluck, I made pernil. I always like to pick something that I've never done before and use my friends as guinea pigs. So far so good, right? The pernil was no exception. It came out moist, tender, and full of flavor. It was everything that I hoped it would be.
First up, the meat. I bought a pork shoulder from my favorite butcher, Esposito's. Where else? They gave me a beautiful piece of meat, bone-in, and skin on.
I took the pork shoulder and scored the skin. It was actually pretty tough and ended up cutting into some of the meat by mistake as well.
I mixed together some chopped garlic (30 cloves), oregano, and cumin. I don't believe in pre-peeled or re-chopped garlic. I think it loses a lot of its natural pungency. Don't be lazy. Use fresh garlic.
I made a paste in the food processor with some salt, pepper, and orange juice.
Then I rubbed the garlic mixture all over the pork making sure it got into every crevice.
And now the juices. The recipe called for 2 cups each of orange and lime juice. I went and juiced it from fresh fruit. It took about 4-5 oranges and 15 limes to get enough. If you have the time and arm strength, do not skip this step. I truly believe that the fresh juices added a lot of flavor to the pork.
Then I added the juiced to the meat and tied it up in a bag. This method helped keep the juices around the entire pork as opposed to just the bottom. Overnight in the fridge it went to marinate.
The next day, I ripped open the bag and took the pork out. The recipe calls to reserve the liquid to reduce on the stovetop. I tried this and it was way too acidic. It wasn't salvageable. Anyway, I took the pork out to come up to room temperature (about 1 hour) before I placed it in the oven to roast at 325oF for about 4-5 hours. My pork took 6 hours because it was still a little cold when I put it in the oven. When the temperature of the meat is safe, then take the foil off and broil the meat and skin for crispness. The skin will become deliciously crunchy. Keep a close watch or it will burn.
After you take the pernil out, let it cool until you can handle it (about 30 minutes). Then take a sharp knife and slice into it. Some people thinly slice it for Cuban sandwiches. I cut it into chunks for people to pick at it. Some pieces had skin, some did not.
As I said before, the pernil came out really good. The flavor was spot on and it was because of the garlic and the juices. Simple recipe with few ingredients but a HUGE payoff at the end. I would definitely make this again.

Esposito's Pork Store
500 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10018-4102
(212) 279-3298

My recipe was adapted by Saveur's recipe below:

Pernil Asado Con Mojo (Mojo-Marinated Pork Shoulder Roast)

The pork shoulder is soaked overnight in a citrusy mojo marinade in this Cuban recipe.

1 7–9-lb. bone-in, skin-on pork
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. ground cumin
30 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups fresh orange juice
2 cups fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste

1. Using a knife, score pork skin to make a diamond pattern. Purée oregano, cumin, garlic, and 2 tbsp. orange juice in a food processor. Rub purée over pork; season with salt and pepper; transfer to a bowl. Pour remaining orange and lime juices over pork; chill, covered, overnight.

2. Remove pork from marinade (reserve marinade); season with salt and pepper. Heat oven to 325°. Put pork skin side up on a rack in a roasting pan; add 2 cups water. Cover pork with parchment and foil. Bake until a thermometer reads 180°, 4–5 hours. Remove foil; broil until crispy, 5–10 minutes. Pour pan juices into a saucepan and add marinade. Boil until sauce thickens, 10–15 minutes. Serve pork with sauce.

SERVES 10–12

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