The family skipped the tasteless turkey this year and opted for what we know best: pork. I wanted to try another friend’s mother’s pernil recipe so I texted Cassy this time around. It’s a completely different recipe from what Lily gave me last year because it does not use Worcestershire sauce or water when cooking.
This recipe brought me back to my old neighborhood of Washington Heights just to buy naranja agrias, or sour oranges. Funny how I grew up seeing them in the stores but have always thought they were just unripe oranges. In a way they are, because their skins are thicker and they definitely taste sour. Cassy’s mom swore to me that they are the secret ingredient to her pernil and that I shouldn’t skip them, but I can’t really say they made much of a difference. I feel like I could have put more lemon and just added the rind in the marinade if I wanted some pithy taste to it.
I used my new KitchenAid lightweight roaster for the first time when I cooked this. I couldn’t believe how light this roaster was, not to mention how pretty the red color is. As far as the pork shoulder was concerned, it cooked evenly especially when I put the lid back on. I felt like the dome-shaped cover distributed the heat as opposed to tenting aluminum foil over the pan like I usually do. I put the rack in place inside so that the pork shoulder was not directly touching the bottom of the roaster–I didn’t want any part of the meat to stick. After cooking, all the rendered fat was at the bottom and some bits burned off, but after a few minutes of soaking in hot soapy water, cleaning it was a snap. Be less spastic than me though, because I put a dent on mine while I was storing it back in the box and already chipped off some of the coating.
1 pork shoulder, no more than 5 pounds
1 head of garlic, peeled, crushed
juice from 6 sour oranges, or naranja agria
lemon juice from 3 lemons
1. Marinate the pork shoulder at least 3 days before cooking. Score the pork with a sharp knife and insert garlic cloves in every nook. Using your hands, liberally rub the pork with the dry spices. Put in a large container and add in the juices. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate. Once a day, make sure you turn the meat so that the other side gets soaked in the marinade.
2. Remove pork from marinade and let rest to room temperature in a colander. When ready to cook, heat oven to 400º. Roast pork for 1 hour on a rack in a roasting pan, skin side up, uncovered. Lower the temperature down to 350º and continue to roast for 1.5 hours, covered. Carefully turn the pork shoulder to cook the other side for another 1.5 hours, skin side down, covered. Check the internal temperature of the meat closest to the bone. It should register at least 170º. Switch the oven to broil. Turn the pork shoulder again, skin side up, and cook for another 30 minutes to crisp the skin up.
3. Remove pork from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before cutting it up.