Let me start by saying that I would probably not cook Pernil for any of my Latino friends, the same way they would probably not make Sunday sauce for me. That said, it came out delicious and was a rightful payment to my friend Dana who helped with a house project. I think the smell of it cooking in the oven kept her motivated and helped us get through it quickly!
Pernil is a a large, usually inexpensive, piece of pork labeled at the supermarket as “picnic shoulder”. It’s got a large layer of skin that crisps up as it cooks and keeps the meat tender and juicy.
To start I make a marinade of orange juice (3 cups), apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup) and olive oil (1/4 cup) and a ton of minced garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and fresh minced parsley. You want to make enough marinade so that at least half of the pork is covered (you’ll need to flip the pork over after a few hours so all sides get some loving). I usually marinate this over night turning a few times during the process. I’ve tried marinating it for just a few hours and it just wasn’t as good, it really needs to go overnight.
Now for the magic, using a sharp paring knife I stab several deep holes (while channeling a dark, serial killer persona) in the meat-not on the skin side-where I will place cloves of garlic deep inside to infuse the pork with flavor. Next, using a super sharp knife, I carefully cut long lines about 1 inch apart from each other across and through most of the fat layer (to the point where the skin meets the meat) and do the same on the bias to create a hatch pattern. (See pic below.)
I put this bad boy on a v-rack in my oven skin side down for two hours at 150 degrees. After two hours I flip it so the skin side is now facing up and cook for another two hours at 150 degrees. This piece of meat was about 5 pounds so you may need to adjust your cooking time depending on the size of pork you have. If you have a meat thermometer your inside temperature (which you take after the pork has rested outside of the oven for about 3-5 minutes) should be 145 degrees. (A useful meat temperature guide can be found here.) After resting I turn it over to hubby, who harnesses his inner caveman and carves this beauty up.
Nice side dishes are rice, salad, yucca, you name it!
Add well cleaned, chopped escarole to rapidly boiling water (add a chicken bullion cube for extra flavor and to remove any bitterness from the escarole), cook for 7 minutes, strain and refresh with cold water. Then, sauté shrimp with a little EVOO, butter, lemon, garlic, red onion, fresh cherry tomatoes that have been halved, pepper, fresh cilantro (I have this growing on my patio so I’ve been adding that to everything!) When shrimp is cooked add escarole and combine. Viola! Dinner is served.
Pro-tip: This is a good recipe to improvise on – i.e. get rid of any vegetables that you have in the fridge – you can toss anything into this dish and it will come out great!
If you need a healthy, easy to prepare side dish try this:
Buy a bag of fresh string beans (haricot verts if you’re fancy) snip off the stem side (top of picture below):
After snipping and cleaning, submerge the string beans into rapidly boiling, salted water and cook for 7-8 minutes (we like ours on the crunchy side but if you don’t, just cook longer). When done cooking, blanch the string beans by dumping into strainer and rinsing with very cold ice water. Blanching the string beans will bring back the bright green color of the string beans
(Science tip: Blanching stops enzyme actions which would otherwise cause loss of flavor, color and texture.)
Place blanched string beans in serving dish, drizzle with a little EVOO, season with kosher salt, pepper and diced red onion (or whatever spices you like) and serve!
This dish was so delicious and simple. I always say that you just need to start with the freshest, closest ingredients you can find and whatever you make will turn out great. I started with some cherry tomatoes that I halved. I put them in a baking dish with a few cloves of garlic, Kalamata olives, some fresh oregano, basil and mint from the garden, drizzled the mix with olive oil and seasoned with S&P. I would have put a block of feta cheese right in the middle of it…but the husband…I baked the dish for about 40 minutes at 350 (I then removed half for hubby and added feta cheese to the rest and baked for another 10 minutes).
Next, I simply sautéed my shrimp in a little EVOO and a pat of butter along with some Vidalia onion, garlic and seasoning.
To plate this dish: I served it over cauliflower rice, so I plated that first, topped with shrimp, then with the baked tomato concoction. It was delicious, easy, hearty and a dish that I will definitely make again.
We love fresh ahi grade tuna. When my fish monger has it we’ll buy a small steak, pepper crust it with fresh cracked black pepper and simply sauté it in a little EVOO for about a minute and half per side. I serve it with a little wasabi and low sodium soy sauce, it’s a great appetizer and so delicious.
Pro-tip: This was cooked a bit more than we like (thanks to my ADD) but still flavorful.
Last week at the farmer’s market I couldn’t resist buying a bucket of the most ginourmous jalapeños that I’ve ever seen. I had no idea what to do with them, I considered pickling them or making a jelly. I wound up making poppers, which was fun and will make for a good appetizer or keto snack.
This dish would be fun to make with the kids. I just seasoned some cream cheese (salt & pepper) cut the stems off the peppers, cut a slit down one side of the pepper and stuffed with about a tablespoon of the cream cheese. I then wrapped an uncooked slice of bacon around each pepper and secured with a toothpick. I chose to freeze these, when I’m ready to cook I’ll defrost, remove toothpick and bake them at 350 for about 20 minutes.
Spaghetti squash is our new go to lately. It’s super versatile, easy to prepare and low carb/calorie. The hardest part of this squash is cutting it open!
To prepare this dish I halved a spaghetti squash and removed the seeds. I then seasoned with a little EVOO, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (you can add whatever seasonings you’d like). Place cut side down in a baking pan and toss in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about an hour (depending on size). You can tell it’s done by poking a fork in the squash – if it goes in easily it’s done.
The fun part is the toppings – we’re trying to empty out our freezer so I’m using everything in there. I sautéed some sausage and shrimp (adding garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper). I also had some left over escarole and frozen peas which I added.
To plate this dish I first scooped out the spaghetti squash, topped with escarole, then topped that with the shrimp & sausage, pea sauté. Of course a healthy sprinkling of parmesan makes everything better. It was super flavorful and filled us up!