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Puerto Rican Slow-Cooked Pork Roast (Pérnil al Caldero)

8 Servings

6 hours 45 minutes active, plus refrigeration

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When readying the house for family gatherings and holidays, Teryluz Andreu’s mother, Tere, always set two extra places at the dinner table. Despite being a professor and busy mother of four, Tere was a generous hostess, welcoming any guest who might stop by on a whim. When feeding a crowd, her go-to was pérnil al caldero: a Puerto Rican staple of succulent slow-cooked pork with shatteringly crisp skin. Pérnil is a pork roast, usually either the shoulder or ham, and caldero refers to the dish’s cooking vessel—an aluminum pot with rounded sides, a tight-fitting lid and excellent heat conduction. For Andreu, who recently relocated to Miami by way of Chicago, the dish is a reminder of celebratory times and growing up in Humacao, a small beach town in southeastern Puerto Rico. When she set out to replicate her mother’s pérnil, Andreu knew how to make the adobo: a garlicky, oregano-spiced marinade enhanced by tangy white vinegar. But achieving the dish’s characteristic crisp skin on the outside, with juicy meat inside, “evaded her every time.” Through many rounds of testing, we found the best way to ensure fall-apart-tender meat as well as golden, crackling skin was by braising the roast stovetop, then removing the skin as a single piece and frying it in a skillet. Of course, a caldero is the traditional choice for preparing pérnil al caldero, but a large Dutch oven (one with a capacity of 7 to 8 quarts) works perfectly well.



6 hours

45 minutes active, plus refrigeration


  • 15

    medium garlic cloves, peeled, divided

  • 2

    tablespoons dried oregano, divided


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John b.
January 23, 2023
I started with the magazine recipe that includes cilantro and let it sit in the fridg overnight. The moisture from the cilantro made it hard to brown. Used a Dutch oven and popped in a 300 degree oven for a couple of hours. Then turned it down to 250 and finished until totally tender . Totally blew the skin by burning it in the oven by itself. Separated the fat and juices with a separator that made it easy and the juice are to die for (especially with fresh cilantro added)! Served with beans, slaw and tortillas to folks who usually snub pork but they'll be asking for this again!
Katie A.
December 16, 2022
Really impressed
I was surprised at the depth of flavor from a few ingredients…my whole family loved it. We will be having it again. Thank you.
Howard C.
December 24, 2022
Lovely braise
Easy recipe great for a party
Linda R.
December 24, 2022
Works so far
Haven’t crisped the skin yet since I’m cooking it a day early. Pork tastes lovely. It shrank as usual, produced enough liquid so I had to pour off rather than add. I wonder about my market.