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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pernil dominicano - Dominican Marinated Pork Shoulder

One of my favorite foods on earth is pernil, or latin style pulled pork.  It's juicy, it's citrus-y, it's herby, it has the yummy crunch of crispy bits of skin, and it's topped with the sweet-acidic pop of marinated onions.  mmmm!  Pernil always reminds me of the heavenly street stands in the Dominican Republic where you can buy yourself a portion of a nice whole roasted pig.  What could be better?  

Well, just like I dream of walking up and pointing to just the right piece of a sweet suckling pig to call my own, most Dominicans do the same (okay, so they don't really have to dream of it, they just do it.  Lucky ducks!).  Few people make their own  lechon (roast suckling pig) or pernil at home.  Even for special occasions, people buy them.  I mean, there are people who specialize in this art, and it can be a very time-consuming one if you're talking about roasting a whole pig.  The whole pig, of course, is extra special because it gives you more crispy skin deliciousness to savor, so that's what most people will go for, when possible.

Soooo, the reality is, if you're just doing a pernil, it's actually pretty easy stuff.  All you need is time on your hands ("tiiiiime on my hands, since you went away boy" in my Mary J. Blidge voice).  You don't need to watch this dish much, just leave it be.  You can watch some movies, clean the house, whatever you need to do.  At the end of the day, four hours is nothing when you taste the gem-of-a-slab-of-meat that awaits.

Pernil dominicano
9lb pernil (pork shoulder or butt)

Mash in a pilon or run through blender or food processor
14 garlic cloves
1 TB oregano
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt per pound
3TB oil
1/4c lime
3/4c bitter orange (you can buy a bottle from the Latin market or international aisle at some supermarkets)
1c white vinegar

Slices of fresh lime
Sweet or red onion slices marinated in White vinegar

1. Blend all of the seasoning, including the oil, together in a bowl.

2. Inject the pork like crazy, and pour over any excess marinade.

3. Allow to marinate in the fridge 1-2 days.  Time is key here.

4. On roasingt day, place the pork, fat side up, in a foil lined roasting pan, pour over any extra marinade and cover tightly with foil. Line the pan well or you will have a huge mess to clean up later.

5. Allow to roast at 300F for 4 hours.  Do not open the oven or uncover the roasting pan during this time.  This keeps it nice and moist.

6. Once your pork baby is in the oven, thinly slice a sweet white or red onion and set aside for it to marinate in white vinegar until the pork is ready.  This will be a very yummy topping once you serve the meat.

7. At the four hour point, uncover the meat.  It should be falling off the bone or at about 190 - 200F.

8. Remove foil and remove roasting pan from oven, baste the meat with its juices, and set pan aside. Crank up oven to 450.  Brown the meat for 30 mins once oven is up to temp.

9. Remove the fat from the meat and incorporate some of it into the meat.  If the fat has still not browned sufficiently, chop it up coarsely and crisp it up on the stove top over medium high heat.  Chop some of the fat into small bits and incorporate it into the meat once shredded.  There’s no need to use anywhere near all of it, just some.

10.  Allow the meat to cool then shred it with two forks.  Don’t forget to incorporate your crackling bits. 

11.  Top each serving with pickled onions, drained of course, and slices of fresh lime.  Yum!  Serve with rice, boiled or fried yucca, and stewed red beans or pigeon peas in coconut milk.

Inspired by:

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to get started! This Dominican girl is a vegetarian, but my meat eating family will love it!