Kelis’s “Milkshake” has been bringing all the boys to the yard since 2003. The 37-year-old has released six albums, has been nominated for two Grammys, and more recently has turned her mixes and beats to food. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Kelis launched her line of Bounty & Full sauces and is now serving up brunch at pop-ups and food trucks around LA. She shares this special recipe from her new cookbook, “My Life on a Plate: Recipes From Around the World.”
“Pernil is my favorite thing in the world. My grandmother made it. My mom made it. And now I make it. Make sure you get a pork shoulder with the skin on and bone in. When you slice into the roast, you see the gorgeous olives and garlic in every slice. I call for a 6- to 8-pound roast because I like to have leftovers for sandwiches, but make any size pernil you want. It’s hard to find large roasts sometimes, so put in a special order at your grocery store or butcher ahead of time. My butcher orders it for me every other month or so and texts me when it comes in.”
Pernil: Puerto Rican Pork Shoulder
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup achiote paste or Sazón (recipe follows below)
½ cup olive oil
2 tbsps kosher salt
1 tbsp fresh black pepper, coarsely ground
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp onion powder
1 (6- to 8-pound) bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or water, as needed
¾ cup whole small pimento-stuffed olives
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Prepare the rub: In a medium-size bowl, mash the butter, Sazón, olive oil, salt, black pepper, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin, paprika and onion powder together to form a paste.
Marinate the pork: Rinse the pork shoulder under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Then, with a large chef’s knife, make 2-inch-deep slits all around the surface of the pork shoulder. Using your hands, rub the Sazón paste all over the flesh, working the mixture into the slits and between the skin and fat. Insert the olives and garlic cloves into the slits.
Transfer the pork, skin-side up, to a large roasting pan and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate the pork shoulder in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or for up to 2 days.
Roast the pork: Adjust your oven rack to the lowest position, removing the other racks if necessary. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Remove the marinated pork shoulder from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Next, pour enough chicken stock — or water — into the roasting pan, surrounding the pork shoulder, until it reaches about an inch from the bottom. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and braise the pork in a 400ºF oven for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Then remove the pork from the oven and discard the foil.
Return the pork shoulder to the oven to roast, uncovered, for another hour or until the skin is dark brown and crisp. Then remove the pork from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
To serve: Slice and serve immediately.
Sazón, which means seasoning in Spanish, is one of a range of seasoning mixes made by Goya, a brand of Latino foods that is a key ingredient in our cooking. Achiote is a paste made from annatto seeds. It’s what gives our rice its pretty yellow color. It’s hard to make Puerto Rican food without sazón. The Goya version is readily available in New York and Los Angeles and anywhere else there are large populations of Latin people. If you can’t find it, you can make your own using this recipe.
Yield: Makes about 2 cups
¼ cup + 3 tbsps dried onion
⅓ cup granulated garlic
⅓ cup dried oregano
¼ cup smoked paprika
3 tbsps + 1 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsps ground cumin
2 tsps achiote or ground turmeric
2 tbsps + 1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp black pepper
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse all the ingredients together into a purée. Transfer the mixture to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and store at room temperature for up to 3 months.
Optional: You can use substitute turmeric for achiote, if not available.
All photos by David Loftus.