(Puerto Rican Slow-Roasted Pork)

November 19: Discovery of Puerto Rico Day

It is interesting that islanders from the Atlantic Ocean came over to live on another island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Puerto Ricans are a small but significant immigrant community in Hawaii. They first came over in the beginning of the 20th century to work in Hawaii’s sugar plantations after their island’s crops were destroyed by two hurricanes. Because of the similarities of tropical living and their experience in the sugar industry, Puerto Ricans were an asset to Hawaii. They shared their culture, music and, of course, food (like pasteles wrapped in banana leaves and arroz con gandules/rice and beans) and integrated with other immigrants and locals.

Another similarity is the tender roasted pork shoulder—kalua puaa in Hawaii and pernil in Puerto Rico. Both are cooked slow and on low heat. Although crockpot kalua pig is simpler with its ingredient list, for a change Islander sometimes admits that she likes the addition of a little Latin flavor in Puerto Rican pernil.

In honor of the Boricuas in Hawaii, we spiced up our kalua puaa recipe and prepared pernil. Discover this delicious dish from Puerto Rico and roast some pork on the Discovery of Puerto Rico Day.



  • 4-5 pounds pork butt/shoulder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 3 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced (plus 1 more lime sliced as optional garnish)
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, minced


Wash the pork and pat dry with paper towels. Use a knife to cut slits throughout the meat so the marinade can penetrate beyond the surface. Make the marinade. In a small bowl, mix together the pepper, oregano, salt, vinegar, olive oil, lime juice and minced garlic.

Rub the marinade paste all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In a slow cooker, place the pork and the marinade in the pot. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Place pork without its juices into a large bowl. Cut and shred with fork. Add a few spoonfuls of the juice over the shredded pork. Season with additional salt to taste. Garnish with lime slices and cilantro (optional). Serve hot with rice and beans, or as a filling in tortillas, and a side of fried plantains.


  • Puerto Rico was discovered and claimed for Spain by the Italian Christopher Columbus on November 16, 1493. He landed on the island once called San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). The Discovery of Puerto Rico Day is a national holiday and there is a parade to celebrate this date.
  • Hawaii-born pop singer Bruno Mars is part-Puerto Rican/Pinoy!