Pernil: Bittman’s Slow Roasted Pork Roast

From Mark Bittman’s Minimalist Column is the New York Times.

Bittman notes, “there are times I feel almost guilty about this dish because the

Bittman's Pernil Pork Roast from Bittman/Food Network

Bittman's Pernil Pork Roast, photo from Bittman via Cooking

process is beyond easy and incredibly impressive, it feeds as many people as a medium-size ham, and the flavor is unbelievable.”

I would agree about the ease and taste.  I am on a pork roast campaign, because we have plenty and I think folks (myself included) are often a bit daunted by a pork roast.  But what I am realizing is that they can be easy.   One of the best things about this recipe, is that you have a lot of flexibility about how long it is in the oven.  A trait I found excellent when hosting folks – no worrying about getting it out just at the right time, you just have to get it in the oven early enough.

For additional tips – see Bittman’s video about it.


Time: At least 3 hours

1 pork shoulder, 4 to 7 pounds (or use fresh ham)

4 or more cloves garlic, peeled

1 large onion, quartered

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ancho or other mild chili powder ( in his video, Bittman notes you can also add a bit of chipotle or other hotter pepper if you like)

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil as needed

1 tablespoon wine or cider vinegar

Lime wedges for serving.

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Score meat’s skin with a sharp knife, making a cross-hatch pattern. Pulse garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, chili, salt and pepper together in a food processor, adding oil in a drizzle and scraping down sides as necessary, until mixture is pasty. (Alternatively, mash ingredients in a mortar and pestle.) Blend in the vinegar.

2. Rub this mixture well into pork, getting it into every nook and cranny. Put pork in a roasting pan and film bottom with water. Roast pork for several hours (a 4-pound shoulder may be done in 3 hours), turning every hour or so and adding more water as necessary, until meat is very tender. Finish roasting with the skin side up until crisp, raising heat at end of cooking if necessary.

3. Let meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it up; meat should be so tender that cutting it into uniform slices is almost impossible; rather, whack it up into chunks. Serve with lime.

Yield: At least 6 servings.