Assertively seasoned with garlic, oregano, pepper, and enough salt to form a crust, pernil—a Puerto Rican mainstay—lingers in the slow cooker for 18 hours until browned and fork-tender. It's served with vinegar-based pique criollo, a hot sauce made with peppers, garlic, pineapple and herbs.
'Puerto Rican' on Serious Eats
An herbal sauce made with mint and parsley, flavored with garlic and citrus juice.
The air was already heavy with smoked pork, aromatic chiles, briny capers and olives, and pungent cumin, and I was just getting ready to add beef broth to the mix. I paused to consider this miraculous rice dish from Puerto Rico. There is nothing humble about this dish at all. It's rich, fragrant, and deliciously meaty, even though there isn't really that much meat present.
Even though the cooking method went against a lot of my education on how to best cook a pork shoulder, this pernil produced a tender and garlicky meat that rightfully stands as one of the great ways to prepare the ever magical swine.
My first introduction into the wonder of mojo sauce was one of the early seasons of Top Chef, where a contestant (the always entertaining, Howie from the Miami season) braised pork shoulder in a mojo sauce to rave reviews. But that's only the beginning of mojo, which I've discovered since then has many uses and variations. Mojo does triple-duty as a fiery marinade, a condiment, and as a tenderizer for meats, seafood and poultry.