Pernil Picnic Roast - 23

Pernil you ask? It’s a method of cooking pork in Caribbean countries from Brazil to Puerto Rico. I adapted this BBQ recipe from a Dominican recipe. The typical ingredients of pernil, other than pork, is garlic, pepper, and oregano. Some prefer lots of citric action as well. I chose to go with the acid myself. Some argue that true pernil is done with a rear leg of the pig, but in recent years, it has been popularized using pork shoulder or in this case a picnic roast.  Why a picnic roast? I almost always use a picnic roast when I’m developing a pulled pork recipe for two very big reasons. 1)Because I can get a boneless picnic for about $8 rather than buying a whole pork shoulder for about $22:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 023

2) I can also cook this picnic roast in about 3 hours as opposed to six plus for a full shoulder. You could just as easily do this with a pork shoulder or pork butt, but adjust cooking times accordingly.

The first part of the recipe requires making Sazon Dominicano which translates roughly to Dominican Seasoning or as I like to call it, salsa. More on that in a minute.

Sazon Dominicano Ingredients:

1/2 cup red onion
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and the white flesh removed (use Scotch Bonnets to kick it up the heat)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano (I used dried, but ground would’ve been better)
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 medium size tomato
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and white flesh removed
1 tbsp scallions/green onions
1 tbsp fresh celery

Pernil Picnic Roast - 006 Sazon Dominicano Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 012

And when you’re done you have salsa:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 016

I thought there would be more to it, and looked at the original recipe that made about a half gallon of the stuff. I obviously cut back the amounts and tweaked it, leaving out both green peppers and cilantro. Not a cilantro fan and I figure I would go with ripe peppers (red) rather than the green. But green pepper and cilantro would only make it more like salsa. At this point, I wasn’t all that geeked about where this recipe was going.

Pernil Marinade Ingredients:

1 cup of Sazon Dominicano, divided
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 cup coarse salt
Juice of 1 lime, divided
Juice of 1 orange, divided

Combine 1/2 cup of the sazon… er, salsa, black pepper, salt and juice of 1/2 lime and 1/2 orange in a bowl:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 033

One of the characteristics of pernil is that the meat must be scored thoroughly or be pierced many times with a long thin knife. Well, I have a boneless picnic roast that is held together by a net so scoring won’t really work:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 022

Pernil Picnic Roast - 024

As you can see, it has a nice fat cap on one side as well as one of those silly little thermometers. Remove the thermometer. You can also see that there are some gaps and crevices with are inherent to this cut which should only enhance the flavor. It is also the reason for the netting as it holds the meat together into a consistent shape which allows for even grilling:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 028

Scoring was out, but I could always stab the crap out of it with this bad boy:

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Make sure to go all over, side to side, and top to bottom with the long thin knife:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 063

Pernil Picnic Roast - 066

The next step is to slather the roast with the marinade making sure to get into all those slits I just put into the roast. But that turns out to be not so easy. Then it occurred to me that I had something that I could use to get into those crevices with ease:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 073

Pernil Picnic Roast - 074

Then place the picnic roast in a resealable plastic bag, add the other half of the salsa, juice of half a lime and half an orange:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 079

Pernil Picnic Roast - 084

Marinade for two hours to two days. Normally, I would say two hours to overnight, but I had sick kids and wasn’t able to grill it the following day. I had to do it two days later.

Remove from the marinade:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 090

Set up the grill for two zone grilling with a place setter like in this Char-Griller Akorn Kamado style grill or with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other. Place the meat on the side with no heat, or in this case, over the place setter and squeeze a half a lime over the top:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 094

Target temperature inside the grill is 300-325 with a cook time of about three hours. I used cherry wood for the smoke.

At the 90 minute mark, the pernil picnic roast is a little over 100 degrees internal temperature and looks like this. I gave it another shower of juice from half a lime:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 19

Target internal temperature for the picnic roast is between 180-190. Some might take it to 200 to make sure it pulls well. That’s personal preference. After 3 hours and we’ve broken 180, the pernil picnic roast looks like this:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 22

Remove the pernil roast from the grill and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes or wrap in foil, wrap in a towel and place in an empty cooler or off microwave for up to two hours before slicing or pulling:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 23

I sliced it in half to get a good view of the smoke ring and the injected salsa:

Pernil Picnic Roast - 131

Pernil Picnic Roast - 132

Pernil Picnic Roast - 140

Pernil Picnic Roast - 134

So what is the verdict? Honestly, the pernil roast was really good. I did not expect it to be good at all. Sazon dominicano was nothing more than salsa, but the flavors of salsa are pretty iconic and combined with the freshness of the citrus turned out to be pretty damn good. Next time though, I might just buy some good salsa, puree it to get it into my injector and save the time of the cutting and chopping. Sure the salsa I made was uber fresh, but I’m not sure how important that is when it is used as a marinade for two days. I wasn’t dipping chips into it, I was using it to marinade a picnic roast before grilling it.

If you have any questions about the grilling recipe above feel free to comment below or shoot me an email.

If you liked the pernil picnic roast and are interest in another grilling recipe with pork, click here for many more.

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Pernil Picnic Roast
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Pork Picnic Roast marinaded in salsa and citrus and then smoked
Ingredients
Salsa Ingredients
  • ½ cup red onion
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and the white flesh removed (use Scotch Bonnets to kick it up the heat)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano (I used dried, but ground would've been better)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • ½ medium size tomato
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and white flesh removed
  • 1 tbsp scallions/green onions
  • 1 tbsp fresh celery
Marinade Ingredients
  • 1 cup of salsa, divided
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • ½ cup coarse salt
  • Juice of 1 lime, divided
  • Juice of 1 orange, divided
Instructions
Salsa Directions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth
Marinade Directions
  1. Put ½ cup salsa in a bowl along with the juice of ½ orange, ½ lime, black pepper, oregano, and salt
  2. Fill a meat injector and proceed to inject the meat
  3. Place the roast in a resealable plastic bag, add the other half of the salsa and the juice of half an orange and lime
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours to 2 days
  5. Prepare the grill for two zone grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
  6. Target temperature of the grill is 300-325
  7. Place the picnic roast on the side with no heat and drizzle the roast with the juice of one half lime
  8. After 90 minutes, drizzle with the other half of the lime
  9. Once the internal temperature of the pernil picnic roast reaches between 180-200 degrees remove from the heat and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes
Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool

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one comment

Just want to do it on a grill with garlic.

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