Pernil – Or In This Case, Roasted Pork Loin – Puerto Rican and Yummy!

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Dinner, Food Journal

Pernil – Or In This Case, Roasted Pork Loin – Puerto Rican and Yummy!

Pernil – Pernil is a delicious, traditional Puerto Rican dish. It is a roasted pork shoulder. I don’t actually use pork shoulder so I guess technically this is not a true pernil. However, I do prepare it the way my Puerto Rican mother-in-law prepares her pernil (with a few of my own adjustments of course). I just happen to use pork loin. So, I still call it pernil. This is also the dish that we take over to my in-laws house on Christmas Eve, as is the tradition and they accept it as “the pernil”, even though it’s not the shoulder. If you’re a stickler for the rules, please by all means, use a pork shoulder. It makes no difference to me. I like the loin better, it is a  more tender piece of meat and it’s easier to follow this recipe when there’s no bone in your way.  This recipe is pretty simple, but a little time consuming. It will also make your hands smell like garlic for like three days so you may want to wear gloves ;D. The hands you see in this post belong to my wonderful 16 year old son. He is becoming quite a little cook and loves having fun with me in the kitchen. We did this loin together (see step five :D) while we hung out and talked. Of course this pernil was delicious because it was cooked with love…… and also because this recipe rocks. If you are a garlic fan – Yay :D, you’re going to love this! Happy Cooking!

6-8 pounds pork loin (if this is too much for you, you can use a 3-4 lb loin and cut the rest of the recipe in half)
50 cloves of garlic, minced (yes, 50)
1/4 cup vinegar, I like red wine vinegar the most for this but apple cider is also good
3/4 cup olive oil
2-3 Tablespoon oregano, dried not fresh
2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh ground if possible


*see food processor instructions at the bottom if you have one

1. Place your minced garlic in a small bowl.
2. Add the vinegar and stir in.
3. Drizzle in the olive oil while stirring.
4. Add the oregano and stir, set mixture to the side.
5. Get out your pork loin and cut it in half cross ways so that you have 2 pieces that are 3-4 lbs each-put one back in the fridge (or have a friend work on that one) (you will use both, but you don’t want your pork loin getting warm while you’re working on it for safety reasons) – or, cut the rest of the recipe in half if you’re only using a 3-4 pound loin.

6. Start at one end of the loin and using a paring knife, poke a hole into the loin almost all the way through.
7. Put your finger into the hole to kind of open it up a little (you can also use the handle of a wooden spoon).
8. Fill the hole with the garlic mixture, I use a spoon and poke it in with my finger, I have also tried one of those injector things, they work OK too- just make sure you pack the garlic in pretty well.

9. Repeat the same thing all over the loin making holes about 1/2 – 3/4 inch apart in a checkerboard pattern.
10. Flip it over and do the same thing on the other side.
11. Wrap your loin tightly in plastic wrap and then put it into a plastic baggie, you can also put it into an airtight container if you’d prefer, then put it in the refrigerator- make sure you wrap it up super tight or your fridge is going to stink really bad and everything will smell and taste like garlic.
12. Get the other loin out of the fridge and start over at step six.
13. Rub any remaining marinade all over the loins.
14. Let your finished loins chill in the fridge overnight or for at least 8 hours.
15. Pre-heat your oven to 450°F.
16. Place your loins un-covered and fat cap side up into a large roasting pan (I use the same one I do my turkey in).
17. When you put it into the oven, turn your oven down to 400°F (you pre-heated to 450°F because we want a nice hot oven and when you open the door, you lose a lot of heat – don’t worry about it being over 400°F at the beginning of cooking).
18. Cook it until it is done :D – you are looking for a beautiful, dark golden brown. The USDA recommends an internal cooking temperature of 145°F (as of when this article is written) see link below, you will have to use a thermometer to check it’s temperature. It will take about 20-25 minutes per pound (mine took an hour, it was 2 pieces each weighing 3  lbs or so).

*If you have a food processor you can follow these instructions instead.
- Place whole garlic into the food processor and pulse until chopped pretty small, but not quite minced yet, add the vinegar and pulse, add the olive oil and oregano and pulse 2 or 3 times to combine, set to the side and continue with step five.










So, this is what you’ve been working for. Notice the beautiful stripe of garlic on the inside when you slice the loin – sooooooo yummy :D! Also, the picture on the left was our dinner that night. On the left are Maduros (fried sweet plantains (recipe coming soon)), on the right is Mofongo (basically tostones mashed with mojo (recipe and explanation coming soon), in back is Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas). In the front center is my beautiful slice of pernil (pork loin). The reason it is darker in color is because we dip it in the pan juices as we cut and serve it. This would also be good with Puerto Rican Rice and Beans and/or Tostones or about a hundred other things :D. It’s pretty versatile. The next day we use the left overs to make Cuban Sandwiches.

This is a link to the USDA’s website, it lists the recommended cooking times and internal temps. along with other facts about pork safety.

Please enjoy this “how-to” video!

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