Recipe Review: Mark Bittman's Pernil Pork Roast

We enjoyed last week's New York Times Dining section a lot. The recipes were tantalizing, the photos were appetizing, and they had Harold McGee guest writing again. The Minimalist's recipe for Pernil, a Puerto Rican pork shoulder roast, stood out - its promise of ease and bright flavors looked so appealing we made it two days later. We had a few problems initially...

Pork shoulder, the inexpensive cut of meat that Bittman uses, was nowhere to be found! We looked in two different shops - no shoulder. We ended up with three small pork loin roasts, a more common cut of meat.

We made the paste in the recipe - garlic, onion, fresh oregano, cumin, salt, pepper. We added a little chipotle powder instead of the ancho, which we didn't have on hand. The paste comes together very quickly in a food processor, and we did it the night before to save time. The meat marinated in this all night, with the paste well-rubbed into small cuts in the meat.

Then we roasted for about three hours at 325°F or until it hit 160°F internally. We let it rest for almost two hours before serving, covered with foil. We were very worried that it was going to be tough and overcooked, but when we sliced it it fell into delicious slices, spicy and garlicky on the outside and tender within.

It didn't fall apart the way Bittman's recipe said it would, but frankly we didn't use the same cut of meat and the cooking time was different accordingly. The spice paste was absolutely delicious, and we loved the flavor it gave to the meat. We served it with our Poetic Chimichurri sauce which was also a big hit.

Recommended recipe - we're going to play with it again soon.