Pernil Assado

 Pernil or pernil asado is a leg or shoulder of pork marinated and roasted for several hours. In Latin American countries, this dish is a Christmas tradition.
Serves 10


For the adobo (marinade)

  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns , crushed
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic , pressed
  • 2 limes , squeezed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt

For the meat

  • 8 lb pork leg or shoulder (whole, with bone)
  • 2 tablespoons marinade
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 7 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons salt


Adobo (marinade)

  • Mix all the ingredients and reserve this preparation to season the meat.

Leg or shoulder of pork

  • Place the pork in a baking dish that can be refrigerated.
  • Mix the garlic powder with the salt and season the pork. Add the fresh garlic on top of the meat. Marinate for 3 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Using a small, sharp knife, remove the fat from the meat by letting it stand on one edge and keeping it in one piece.
  • Start at the wide end and go to the narrow end.
  • Leave enough fat on the meat to turn the fat on its side while seasoning the meat.
  • The fat will be added back on the seasoned meat and cooked on the meat.
  • With a little marinade, season the side of the fat that covers the meat. The other side (the top) should only have salt.
  • Make very deep cuts on all over the meat and season with the marinade, ensuring that the seasoning penetrates well into all the cuts.
  • Put the fat on the meat so that it looks the same as before cutting and sprinkle with salt.
  • Cover the meat with a cling film and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  • Remove the meat 1h30 before cooking and let the meat come back to room temperature before cooking.
  • Place the meat in a deep oven dish with the fat side up. There will be a lot of fat, so be sure to use a deep dish.
  • Preheat the oven for 45 minutes at 400 F / 200 C before baking (while the meat comes back to room temperature).
  • Bake at 400 F / 200 C, and covered for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 300 F / 150 C, and cook again covered for 3 hours. Do not turn the meat over. Then uncover and cook for an additional hour.
  • When the meat is cooked, poke it on the side with a fork to see if it is falls off from the bone. If the top (cuerito) is not crisp enough, continue cooking at 400 F / 200 C for 15 minutes or until crisp.
  • Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes before cutting it.
  • To cut it, completely remove the fat (cuerito) and reserve it.
  • Slice the meat then cut the fat (cuerito) into pieces and sprinkle on the meat.
  • Serve the meat with a piece of cuerito.


  • It is strongly recommended to use a meat thermometer. The meat will be ready when it reaches 185 F at the core.
  • Pernil is usually served with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas).