Pernil in the Mini! Becomes a Cuban Sandwich!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by s2k9k, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I saw this thread by Tas awhile back and ever since reading it I have been wanting to make some Pernil. Due to everyday life I have not had the chance to do it until now but have been thinking about it all the time. Also I have been trying to find Naranja Agria but can’t find it anywhere so I gave up and made my own. Since the Pernil sparked my interest so much I started reading a lot of recipes and found there are many different ways to make it so I took a little here and a little there and just made my own. Most recipes I read were pretty close with the main things being a lot of garlic and some acid to get it into the meat. A lot use red or white wine vinegar and a lot use Naranja Agria (bitter orange juice). I really liked the sound of the citrus over the vinegar so that started my hunt , which failed, so I made my own.

    Naranja Agria Substitute:

    1 grapefruit

    1 orange

    1 lime

    1 tsp orange zest

    Squeeze all the juice out of the fruits into a bowl, add the orange zest and set in the refrigerator for a few hours. Then strain out all the zest and pulp and you have it.

    Now to make the marinade for the Pernil, I took the juice I just made and poured it into a blender with 12 cloves of garlic and pulsed it a few times. You don’t want to liquefy the garlic you want it a little chunky. To this I added

    1 TBS coarse grind black pepper

    1 TBS kosher salt

    1 tsp cumin

    Mix it up real good and that’s all there is to it.

    Most Pernil is made from a pork shoulder with the skin still on but I don’t really like the skin or all that fat so I chose to use a bone in Boston butt. It’s about 9 lbs and I only trimmed a little of the fat cap. I usually lean trim my butts but decided to leave some fat on this one.

    Now to get the marinade into the meat, take a boning knife and stab it into it a couple of inches deep, wiggle it around to open up a hole and using a spoon pour the marinade into the hole. I did this all the way around it probably 40 times. Then pour all the remaining marinade all over it, wrap it up and put it in the refrigerator. Let it sit at least overnight or up to 3 days. I let mine sit for 3 days.

    Now just cook it low and slow like you would any pork butt. I read a lot cook them in the oven but I chose to break in my Mini WSM with it. I built this a few months ago but again everyday life has gotten in the way of me using it. I fired it up to season it yesterday and it was running really hot but I finally got it settled down. I fired it back up this morning and it is running much better. I am going a little hot to start because of stabbing the Pernil so many times I want to make sure I hit the 140* fairly quickly then I will tune it down a bit for some low and slow to finish.

    Sorry no pictures of making the marinade, I was kind of in a hurry, a lot was going on that day but it was just squeezing some fruit in a bowl and that’s not real exciting so you didn't miss much.

    Here’s the Pernil after resting for 3 days, you can sort of see some of the holes where I stabbed it and the chunkiness of the garlic:

    Here it is in the Mini after an hour (I only opened it up so all of you could see it), you can see the temp probe to the right.

    Here's a little mod a friend of mine at work came up with, he built a Mini after I showed him pictures on here about them.

    I drilled a few small holes and put rubber grommets in two of them, I can slide the smoker temp probe in and the grommet holds it in place. No need for a rack clip and I can measure at either rack I want. The third hole is to route the meat temp probe in to the smoker:

    My Mini chugging along:

    I am also going to bake some Pan Agua (Cuban rolls) today for some Cuban sandwiches.

    I'll be back later with some updates so stay tuned to SMF!

  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looking forward to the final results. Are you using lump or briquettes? What kind of wood for the smoke? Our local Hispanic market carries the bitter orange juice!

  3. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looks good. I may have to try this. Wife loves citrus marinaded pork.....
  4. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the inspiration. I've done more butts than I can count and frankly was getting a bit bored, but didn't know what to do next. Now I do! Thanks.
  5. mike johnson

    mike johnson Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    That sounds absolutely AMAZING!!!! I cant wait to see the final outcome.
  6. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Thanks! everyone!
    I'm using Stubbs All natural briquettes with apple chunks and a little hickory chunks.
    I was getting a little bored with regular pulled pork also so when I saw the thread by Tas I knew I had to try it.

    All the credit should go to Tas for the inspiration! If you have a few minutes read his thread that I linked at the top, a lot of great info in there!
  7. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Will do Dave. Mmm mmm citrus pork sounds SO good right now. Thanks for pointing the way....
  8. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Stubbs (partial bag came with the Smokey Joe)is what I used for my initial season burn. Semed to work good, but I am interested in using lump for my next run. I too have become bored with the usual pork butt so will be looking forward to the taste test!
  9. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Update: 3 1/2 hours in and the dead center is at 133* and the ends are at 147* so I think I will be good for the 140* in 4. I put my remote probe in so I don't have to open it up again. I did get something for all of you to look at though, it is looking good! 

  10. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's lunch time and I haven't eaten yet! You're killing me! (in a good way of course!) [​IMG]
  11. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    looks great!!
  12. Oh my Dave - it looks and sounds great!!! Can't wait for the end result...might have to give this one a try!
  13. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Since I'm just getting into using my mini-wsm I have a few more questions about how you set up for this smoke. I've had mixed results so far with heat control and I hope to get it nailed down soon.

    First how full did you fill the base with charcoal? Do you use a charcoal basket? Minion method or do you get all the charcoal going at the same time?
  14. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Well yesterday was the first time I used it. Here's a thread I started yesterday. I used a basket and filled most of the way up with a hole right in the middle and dumped about 20 lit coals in the hole. I left all the vents open and it shot up over 300* pretty fast so I closed off the bottom vents and it took 2 hours to get back down to 200*. I opened one vent about halfway and it jumped back up over 300*. I was getting nervous I wouldn't be able to keep the temps down in it. Mdboatbum gave me some tips and today I loaded the same way but didn't leave a hole in the middle just a little indention for the lit coals to set in. I only lit 15 coals today and only open the bottom vents halfway at first. When it got to 280* I closed them almost all the way and with just some small adjustments it maintain between 270* - 280* the first 4 hours, just what I wanted since I wanted to cook this a little fast at first to ensure I would hit 140* in 4 and that I did! Right at the 4 hour mark the very center was 140* WhooHoo!!! After that I closed one vent all the way and left the other about one quarter open and it has been riding 230* - 235* the past 4 hours. I am very impressed with this Mini now!!!
  15. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group


    At the 7 1/2 hour mark it was at 162*. I don't normally foil my butts but since most Pernil is cooked in an oven in a pan covered with foil I decided to foil it. Since it will mostly be used for Cuban sandwiches I think a little softer texture will be better. So while I had it out to foil I figure I'll give you another peek:

    The Pan Agua is done, my dough handling skills need a little improvement but I think once it's stuffed with some Pernil, ham and smoked swiss it shouldn't matter what it looks like:

    Ok no more peeking until it is done!
  16. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Thanks for the information! I'm just trying to gather as much info as possible. I know that part of my problem so far has been the weahter. It's been really cold 27* today and there has been a bunch of wind too. I'm hoping to do my first smoke in the little guy after the weekend.
  17. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lookin good Dave.
  18. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group


    Finished! at the 10 1/2 hour mark it was at 195*, Done! That's an all time record for me, usually 9 lb'ers take 18 hours+ in my GOSM but I did start this one hot, 275* for the first 4 hours so I don't know if it was the higher start temp or maybe all the citric acid helped break down the meat and cook faster or maybe it was just that there was just a full moon, who knows??? I pulled it out at 7:00 and FTC for 2 hours then pulled it. It just fell apart, I picked the bone up out of it and there wasn't a speck of meat attached to it. Anyway it turned out Fantastic if I may say so myself! It is super tender and juicy but not mushy, still has a nice firm texture and the flavor is incredible, not your typical pulled pork at all. Of course it has a heavy garlic flavor but there is something else there I can't really describe, must be the citrus but it's not a fruity taste. I really like it and can't wait to put some on a Cuban roll with some ham and swiss and toast it up in the oven. OK enough talk here is the finish:

    Here's the first time it saw daylight since it got foiled at 160*"

    Nice clean bone picked up with no effort:

    Here's some close ups, you can see how juicy this thing is:

    And a big pan full of Pernil to keep me happy for awhile!

    Thanks for looking everyone and Much Thanks for all the nice comments so far!

    Tomorrow I will Q-view a Cuban sammie for all of you!

    BTW, I Love my Mini!!! I was a little nervous yesterday because it was running so hot but today it performed beautifully! I couldn't be happier with it!

    Until tomorrow, everyone have a good night! 
  19. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looking good my friend...lookin good! Nice close up pics. Very tasty looking.
  20. I love the traditional with skin, but that sure looks great!!!!!


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