Alexandra Hill

Grampi's Pernil

Alexandra Hill
Grampi's Pernil


 If you can't tell by now, a lot of my food recipes here on #JAHS are dishes I had growing up. This particular dish is a staple! Pernil, which is roast pork shoulder that is usually made during the holidays in the Puerto Rican culture, mostly Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

I have so many memories of eating this dish growing up but it is even more special because my Grandfather or Grampi as I call him (My Mom's Dad) would make this for every holiday. Grampi was the best cook and this was his famous dish. My fondest memory was watching him make this in his tiny Spanish Harlem apartment, the whole apartment would smell like garlic and herbs and I loved every second of it, this is probably where I fell in love with cooking. Now, Grampi didn't speak THAT great of English but me being half his size and barely reaching the kitchen counter, I would just look at him stuffing massive cloves of garlic in this gigantic pork shoulder and him explaining, to the best of his ability, what went into his pernil. 

Until Sunday, I've never made this dish because, well, I was super intimated to make it because my Grampi was truly the best at it and all of his daughters, my aunts said so.

What makes this particular post bittersweet is my sweet Grampi passed away in January from Alzheimer's at 92 and his birthday is coming up this Friday, April 13th. 

Unfortunately, when Grampi passed it was the middle of the winter, I had just moved back to NYC and everyone was just coming back from a long Christmas break. For more context, Grampi passed away at 12:01 am on January 1st, 2018. Crazy, right!? He was truly a fighter, he was not going out in 2017! Long story, even longer... a random ass snowstorm was coming to the east coast when my aunts were planning his funeral so most of my familie's flights/trains were cancelled - super bummer.

However, look how God works!

My tiny, feisty Titi Chuqui, the youngest of the sisters, decided to plan a memorial/celebration for Grampi on his birthday this year so everyone could make it! So this past Sunday, I told her I wanted to try to make Grampi's famous Pernil going into his birthday week and she invited my other Titi, Bibi, who is famous for her arroz con gandules to come over too! 

Listen, I was determined AF to perfect this dish so I walked my happy ass to my local meat market where they know me by my name now and told my favorite Meat Market Man I'm making Pernil, where he then goes "YOU GO GIRL! Bring me some too!'


I talked to my Mom about 10x that day and she gave me specific instructions on how to make his dish. The secret is honestly in the marinade and not opening the damn oven when it is roasting aka letting the pork do its thang! I was so excited when it was finally done after 5 hours of roasting!

My best friend, Robert came over, we had way too many mimosas, took shots for Grampi and just had a great Sunday where I coined the new hashtag #PuertoRicanSundays. I also Face-timed my Mom to show her the finished product and she was so proud! I low-key got a little emotional because it smelled just like Grampi's house when he used to make it and might I add, it came out so tender and garlicky! I just know he would be proud of me! 

I HIGHLY suggest you try this Pernil for your next special occasion or  holiday coming up - you will def enough for a roast pork sandwich the next day! #Yum

Remember to tag me @JustAddHotSauce_ or #JustAddHotSauce 


- 10 lb pork shoulder with skin 

Mojo Rub/Marinade:

- 10 to 12 garlic cloves

- 1 tablespoon black pepper

- 1 tablespoon kosher salt

- 1 tablespoon oregano

- 2 tablespoon EVOO

- 1 packet Goya Sazon achiote y culantro

- 3 tablespoons Sofrito


1. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the mojo rub/marinade. Be sure to poke holes in the pork so when you are rubbing the marinade all over the pork, it goes inside the holes. 

2. Rub the marinade all over! Be sure to marinate the pork for 24 hours so the pork can absorb all the flavor! 

3. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, trasnport the pork shoulder to a roasting pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook the pork for 4 hours covered, then at hour 4, remove the foil and cook for another hour, uncovered so the skin of the pork can get crisp!

This is where you hear the term 'chicharron!" or aka 'fried pork skin' - delish! When you bite on the skin you want to hear the CRUNCH!

4. Let the pork rest for about 30 minutes so all the juice can remain in the pork, shred it and serve with arroz con gandules, sweet maduros and a good side salad!

Cheers to eating!