In my Dominican familia, nothing says celebration like puerco asado (roast pork) or pernil as it is commonly referred to. It’s often associated with the holiday season, but at my house any occasion is good enough to dish out this succulent creation.
Every Latino community has their own way of preparing roast pork. Some braise; others smoke. In the Dominican countryside, many cook it outdoors on a spit. The most interesting preparation is done by Cubans, who will roast an entire pig inside a box called La Caja China.
As a city dweller, instead of roasting an entire pig, I go for a shoulder, an extremely flavorful cut of pork. I start cooking it on a low flame atop the stove and then transfer it to the oven. This crucial step ensures that the meat remains incredibly moist, as pork shoulder is a tough cut of meat that requires a long cooking time. It’s a technique my mother adopted shortly after arriving in the United States from the Dominican Republic almost 40 years ago.
I almost feel guilty giving away my familia’s secret to the perfect pernil because, as you will see, putting it together takes very little effort. The stove and the oven do all of the work, and the result is meat that is juicy, bold and so tender it falls right off the bone. It will leave you trying to come up with an excuse to make it again right after your first bite. I promise.