General Discussion

Cuban Portuguese Pork Pork Shoulder

Let's not call roast pork shoulder pernil

Share:

Live your best food life.

Sign up to discover your next favorite restaurant, recipe, or cookbook in the largest community of knowledgeable food enthusiasts.
Sign Up For Free
General Discussion 18

Let's not call roast pork shoulder pernil

bacallado | Mar 3, 2011 08:34 AM

I want to set something straight. Pernil, a dish popular in the Caribbean countries from Cuba to Venezuela as well as in Brazil, is made with fresh ham. The name of the dish shares a root with the word for leg in Spanish and Portuguese, and I believe it's the Catalan name for ham.

Why is this important? It seems that all recipes to be found in English for pernil use pork shoulder, a very different cut of meat. True pernil recipes call for the fresh center or shank portions of the pig's hind legs, which is a much leaner cut that requires roasting at a pretty high temperature until it's golden and just cooked through -- the same way you'd roast a lamb gigot. The seasonings vary, but oregano and garlic feature prominently in general. In my family, we use orange juice to make a pan jus.

Do I have anything against pork shoulder pernil? Not really, it's only that calling it pernil makes me cringe a little. The truth is that roasting a heavily seasoned piece of pork shoulder at 350F for 3 hours is one of the best ways to produce juicy, flavorful pork that will stay together while slicing. I might even like it better than true pernil.

Pork shoulder pernil was probably popularized by Puerto Ricans in the United States. I must admit that, like most Puerto Rican bastardizations of the Spanish language, this one is quite luscious.

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound