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.
Why this recipe works:
- A tropics-like, vinegar-based hot sauce employs peppers, garlic, oregano and pineapple to enliven meat.
- A salty, garlicky oregano rub is massaged into the pork shoulder, which has been marked with a cross-hatch pattern. Then, it's marinated overnight before the cooking begins.
- A long time in the slow cooker—18 hours—yields a crusty interior and ultra-tender meat.
Note: After using the pique criollo, it keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Use it to enliven other meats as well as beans and rice.
- For the Hot Sauce (Pique Criollo):
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup distilled water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 2 habaneros, halved, seeds and stems removed
- 2 jalapenos, halved lengthwise
- 2 serrano peppers, halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup finely diced, fresh pineapple
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the Pork (Pernil):
- 8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, divided use
- 1 (5- to- 6-pound) bone-in pork shoulder, preferable with fat left on
- 1 cup water
Combine all ingredients for hot sauce in a large, 32-ounce Mason jar. Seal tightly with lid and place in a cool, dark place to macerate for 2- to-3 days.
To make the rub, bash together garlic, oregano and salt using a mortar and pestle. Add vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar and thoroughly combine.
Mark pork in a crosshatch pattern 1/4" into the meat, using a sharp knife. Rub all over with prepared paste. Place meat on a large platter. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
Remove meat from the refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of a slow cooker, placing it fat-side up. Add water and remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar. Cover and cook on low for 18 hours, turning once.
When meat is nicely browned and fall-apart tender, transfer to a cutting board to rest for 20 minutes. Cut or pull apart pork in hunks and serve immediately with prepared hot sauce.
Quart-sized mason-jar, mortar and pestle, slow cooker