Notes: This recipe requires overnight marinating. If you prefer a more citrusy flavor, substitute ½ cup orange juice and the juice of 1 lime for the vinegar.
Pernil (pronounced pare-kneel) is a real Latin tradition during the holidays. Instead of turkey, this is often the centerpiece along with arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas). When I think about it, I can still taste the pernil after spending a holiday with my grandparents in Puerto Rico. Like a turkey, it’s served with gravy and, depending on the size of the pork shoulder, you can feed at least eight to ten people. And pork always makes for the most delicious leftovers: pork sandwiches, burritos, or tacos, or served on top of pasta.
This recipe needs just a little tender loving care, but it really is fairly easy and hands off. You just need time to allow the meat to marinate overnight and then roast for several hours, but when done it should just fall off the bone and melt in your mouth.
1. Score the fat on the pork shoulder with a sharp knife, cutting a diamond pattern. Don’t cut into the pork itself.
2. Make the marinade: In a bowl, mix together the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Rub it liberally into the pork (rubber gloves help), getting it into the slits in the fat and on all sides. Cover the pork and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Remove the pork from the refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking so it can come to room temperature, which allows it to roast more evenly.
4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
5. Place the pork in a roasting pan on a rack (like you would a turkey) with the fat-side down. Pour 4 cups water into the pan, then roast for 1 hour. Flip the pork so the scored fat is face up and roast for 4 ½ hours more. Occasionally baste the top with the drippings in the pan. It is done when the outside is a beautiful crispy brown and the internal temperature reads about 175 degrees.
6. Remove from the oven and tent with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Once cooled enough, cut around the T-shaped bone and remove it. Carve thinly with a serrated knife, as you would a ham or turkey.
Make the gravy: Pour the pork drippings from the pan into a separator, to remove most of the fat, or large spouted measuring cup. In a separate measuring cup, mix the flour and butter, then add the drippings, using a fork to mash it into a thick paste. In a saucepan, heat the white wine and ½ cup water over medium heat. Pour the paste into the saucepan and whisk until the gravy thickens, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside the pernil roast.