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Pernil, a Cuban pork shoulder dish

A piece of pork shoulder covered in garlic and a marinade placed in a glass pan surrounded by mojo liquid.

The Pernil in the marinating process. It is stuffed with garlic cloves and the fragrant cumin, cilantro, and green onion mixture and surrounded by the sour orange mojo marinade. (Alexis Carvajal)

Pernil is a Cuban pork shoulder dish that found its way to me, in Indiana, through my grandmother, Rachel Carvajal. She walked me through the steps over the phone (from her home in Florida), and my Dad, Fernando and I prepared it together.  

You can listen to the story of my dad and me preparing this mouthwatering citrus and garlic pork dish on this episode of Earth Eats.

Rachel Carvajal’s Pernil


  • 10 pound pernil (pork shoulder)
  • Salt it all over
  • 1 bottle of Mojo marinade criollo

For the Mixture:

  • 5 shakes of cumin
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 2 bunches of green onions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 packages of Sazón goya con azafrán
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 shakes of black pepper



  1. Chop green onions, cilantro, and 3 of the cloves of garlic
  2. Combine cumin, olive oil, green onions, cilantro, sazon goya, black pepper & garlic in a blender
  3. Puree the mixture
  4. Salt your pernil and creates slits all over it
  5. Spread your mixture over the pernil and into the slits
  6. Use your extra garlic and “cap” the slits
  7. Place the pernil in a turkey oven bag and pour in the entire bottle of mojo marinade
  8. Tie the bag & refrigerate for 48 hours


  1. Preheat the oven for 350 degrees
  2. Place the pernil on a pan and into the oven, with the bag still on
  3. Cook for a total of 5 hours for 10 pounds and check the pernil periodically
  4. When finished and crispy, serve with your choice of sides
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