Crock It! Pernil


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When made in the traditional way, pernil is a large pork shoulder roasted in the oven with a crispy skin. It is one of my favorite meals that my mother-in-law makes and it’s been years since I’ve had it.

The downside of the original cooking method is that the thick layer of fat on top, while delicious, is not the healthiest of meal options. Add to that my doctor’s recent observation of lingering baby weight post child #3, I started looking for healthier recipes. I got this one from Gina’s Skinny Taste . It fit my needs perfectly– a slow cooker meal without the extra fat. It was easy to make and my kids liked it, but I did find the original recipe lacking in flavor. I’ve made a couple of minor adjustments and am thankful for this healthier version of a recently found comfort food.

Slow-Cooked Pernil


  • 2-4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast trimmed of all fat and tied together
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, dried oregano and onion powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 lemon, sliced horizontally
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

What’s Next

  1. Pat dry and generously season roast with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried oregano.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven. Brown roast on all sides.
  3. Place roast in slow cooker.
  4. Add water with lemon slices and bay leaves.
  5. Cover and cook on high heat for 4-6 hours depending on the size of your roast.
  6. Remove roast from slow cooker and place on cutting board. Cut string and shred with two forks.
  7. Remove liquid from slow cooker and set aside.
  8. Return shredded meat to slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl or a measuring cup with a pour spout. Add to slow cooker and stir to incorporate flavors. Cook on low for 30 minutes.
  9. Serve with rice and additional lemon slices.
  10. Discard leftover liquid originally removed from slow cooker.

Notes from my experience:

  • This is an easy meal to make and I like that.
  • Browning the meat first and then adding the stronger flavors at the end yielded better flavor.
  • Shredding the meat does take a little bit of time, so be sure to include that in your meal preparation calculation. My kids were starving and doing homework, so things got a little dicey in my kitchen.
  • This recipe is so versatile that I am considering making it again but using Chinese flavorings that I would normally use for stir fry: Hoisin sauce, plum sauce, Teriyaki sauce, scallions and orange juice. YUM!
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