During the Christmas season, one of the most popular traditional dishes served in a Puerto Rican home is pernil.  Pernil is a pork shoulder that has been marinated and roasted in the oven for several hours.  Some people prefer the pork butt for this, but I always buy the shoulder.  This is not to be confused with the picnic ham you see in most supermarkets.  One difference is that the skin MUST be left on.  Of course, this dish can be, and is, served year round, but it is most closely associated with Christmas.  Every so often, we get a craving, and if we don’t get to our favorite Puerto Rican restaurant here in Central Florida, Las Dos Islas, then I have to turn on the ol’ oven and fix it myself.  I really don’t mind.  It’s not that difficult, and I can always find uses for the leftovers. 

adapted from “Puerto Rico True Flavors” by Wilo Benet

2 Tbsp GOYA® Adobo con Pimiento (with Pepper)
1 packet GOYA® Sazón with Coriander and Annatto 
1 tsp black pepper
5 Tbsp. GOYA® recaito
9 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp dried oregano
1 C extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh pork butt, bone-in

Place first 7 ingredients in food processor.  Process until smooth.  Using a small knife, carefully lift the skin to loosen without tearing.  HERE’S THE FUN PART:  Using that same knife, make incisions all over the meat, not the skin.  Don’t be shy about this.  This is your chance to take out all of your inner frustrations.  Think about how Aunt Ethel suggested you were gaining weight.  Think about how Uncle Fred criticized your mashed potatoes.  Think about any and all of your exes.  They know what they did to deserve this.  Stab that dead pig!  Several times!  : )  Now, calm back down.  You probably have more marinade than you need, so I suggest you divide it in half and put half in the refrigerator.  We’ll find a use for it in a day or two.  Take the other half and rub over the shoulder completely.  Carefully lift the loosened skin and rub the marinade under the skin as far back as possible.  Get the marinade into the stab wounds, uh, I mean incisions.  Take extra garlic cloves, cutting in half if necessary, and slide under the loosened skin and into the incisions.  Marinate in the refrigerator at least one hour, preferably overnight.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place shoulder in roasting pan, skin side up.  Bake uncovered for 6 hours or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part reads 180 degrees.  After the first 2 hours, open the oven door to the first catch and leave open so that the skin will crisp.  It may be necessary to turn roasting pan from time to time.

When roast is done, remove from oven and set on cutting board to carve.  
Using kitchen shears, cut the crispy skin off in large pieces. Cut the large pieces into smaller, almost bite-size chunks and place on separate serving platter. Don’t be surprised if the crispy chunks never make it to the table.  When you start cutting this up, all those people who have been sitting on the sofa while you cook will suddenly appear in the kitchen.  It is not uncommon for everyone to start pinching off bites until it is all gone.   Slice the roast and serve.

Trust me; once you cook this once, you’ll understand why I was willing to heat up my oven on a hot day.



Recently, I entered and won a cookbook giveaway on one of my favorite food blogs, Sugar Pies.  As you are probably aware, the Amish are, for lack of a better term, hot right now.  I have personally found them interesting since I was privileged to visit Holmes County, Ohio a few years ago.  I have read quite a bit about them, visited their stores and restaurants, and purchased some of their cookbooks.  Trust me, if you love Southern cooking, you will love Amish cooking.  I think we find them interesting because their way of life seems to be peaceful.  Most of us would not really want to give up our technology and convenient appliances and electricity, but we enjoy thinking about it.  When I think about how much these women accomplish every day of their lives without our modern conveniences, I have to take my metaphorical hat off to them.  I can’t do half of what they do living in a modern home.  But as usual, I left my main topic.  I won the cookbook!   

“The Amish Cook’s Baking Book” by Lovinia Eicher is the third cookbook by Eicher and her editor, Kevin Williams.  Lovinia Eicher has written  the nationally syndicated newspaper column “The Amish Cook”, which was started by her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, since 2002.  This cookbook contains over 100 Amish baking recipes for pies, cakes, desserts, and cookies.  Between recipes, the author provides commentary about cooking and Amish life in general.  In addition, her children also have written short sidebars throughout the book.  The recipes are clear,concise, and easy-to-follow.  I haven’t started baking from it yet, but I look forward to working my way through it.    So, again, thank you, Sugar Pies!

Until next time, Happy Cooking! : )

If you don’t like how things are, change it!  You’re not a tree.  ~Jim Rohn


Very Good Recipes – Kingdom of Puerto Rican Recipes