I recently restarted a bimonthly Sunday family dinner that cycles around each of our homes. What I began with a slow-cooked pot roast with braised red cabbage and potato gratin continued with Sheppard’s pie from my mom and the Greek casserole moussaka from my sister (A-plus for effort).

When the meal returned to my home, I knew I had to bump it up one more level. My mother mentioned something about pernil, the Puerto Rican roast pork shoulder. I had to make it! That Sunday wasn’t Easter, but I was going to show out like it was.

Here is what I did …

  • 7-8 pounds picnic pork shoulder
  • 16 garlic cloves, minced or passed though a garlic press
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Note: I had the butcher remove the skin completely from the shoulder so I could get the seasoning in the meat.

Wash the pork shoulder with water and vinegar and pat dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife, make one-inch deep cuts into the pork. Make at least 20 cuts.

With a mortar and pestle (or garlic press), crush the garlic and add oregano and black pepper, olive oil and salt. Mix well. Spread the garlic mixture all over the pork, pressing the mixture inside the small cuts. If you have removed the skin, return it to its position, rub with some of the paste and liberally salt and pepper it.

Place the pork in an at least two-inch deep pan (skin side up); cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to one or two days.

Remove the roast from refrigerator and let sit for one hour to come to room temperature before cooking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven is ready, remove the plastic wrap and roast the shoulder for one hour. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees for four hours. The skin should be crisp. If not, remove the roast and place the skin back in until you have the perfect crackling. Be vigilant and watch so you don’t burn up this precious morsel.

Of course, I had to serve yellow rice and fried sweet plantain, but since my mother is not a fan of rice, I made my cauliflower “couscous” with currants and green onion. We started with a big green salad and finished with apple pie.

It’s too bad it wasn’t Easter on that Sunday, but my loss is your gain! Make pernil for your Easter celebration!

P.S. The bone and its remnants were used to make yellow split pea soup in my slow cooker. I used every bit of that roast!

Mom, you’re up next—and ironically on Easter (I swear I didn’t plan this). So, whatcha makin’?

Happy Easter and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.