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Cuban Roasted Pork Leg (Pernil)

Preparation Time:
45 mins
Cooking Time:
6 hrs 45 mins
Total Time:
7 hrs 30 mins

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12 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon coarse salt
6 sprigs of fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup Adobo, recipe follows
1 cup store-bought Mojo sauce
2 cups orange juice
4 limes, juiced
1 (14 to 16-pound) bone-in whole fresh pork leg

My Adobo:

1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder or flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon achiote powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt


Place the garlic cloves on a cutting board. 

Slice the cloves in half lengthwise and then smash with the side of a knife. 

Sprinkle the salt over the garlic and chop and smear the garlic against the cutting board until it makes a paste. (This can also be done using a mortar pestle; smash the garlic halves before placing them in the mortar.) 

Add the oregano, chop it into the garlic paste and mix together. 

Put the garlic paste in a large bowl. 

Add the Adobo, Mojo, orange, and lime juices. 

Mix well to combine.

Place the pork in a roasting pan and using a sharp knife, score the surface of the meat in a crosshatch pattern. 

Pour the marinade over the pork, being sure it gets into the incisions and penetrates the meat. 

Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day in the refrigerator, covered and turning it once or twice.

Preheat the oven to 450º F.

Uncover the pork and allow the meat to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes. 

Lower the oven temperature to 350º F, and continue to roast until the meat is falling apart and an instant-read thermometer reaches 160º F when inserted into the thickest part of the pork. 

Baste with the marinade every 30 minutes. 

Total roasting time will be approximately 5 to 5 1/2 hours.

Remove from oven and let it stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes, covered loosely with a foil, before cutting it in slices.


This recipe for adobo is a staple seasoning for many of my Latin recipes. 

You can make a large batch, store it in an airtight container and use it as a flavor enhancer in your favorite dishes.

Combine all measured ingredients in a small glass jar with an airtight lid and shake to blend. 

Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.