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Pernil-Style Pork Tenderloin


Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 121

Pernil is a brightly flavored roast pork dish from the Caribbean. This version uses quick-cooking tenderloin in place of the more traditional pork shoulder, but it has the same robust flavorings, including garlic, cumin, oregano, vinegar, and lime.

  • 3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1-1/4-lb. pork tenderloin
  • 4 lime wedges

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, shallots, 3 Tbs. of the oil, the vinegar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, sugar, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Pulse for several seconds to make a paste.

Cut the tenderloin in half crosswise and then butterfly both halves by holding a knife parallel to the cutting board and cutting a lengthwise slit to within 1/2 inch of the other side of the tenderloin. Spread 1 Tbs. of the paste inside each slit. Tie with kitchen string or secure with toothpicks and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy-duty, ovenproof, 10-inch skillet over high heat until hot and add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, swirling the pan to coat the bottom. Add the tenderloins and sear on all sides until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 8 minutes. Turn the tenderloins over and spread the remaining paste on top. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each registers 145°F, about 6 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board, remove the string or toothpicks, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice 1/2 inch thick and serve with the lime wedges.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 330, Fat (kcal): 20, Fat Calories (g): 180, Saturated Fat (g): 4, Protein (g): 31, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13, Carbohydrates (mg): 5, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 2, Sodium (g): 290, Cholesterol (g): 95, Fiber (g): 1,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Delicious and easy!

A quick, easy delicious weeknight meal.

This is one of our favorites, and we make it at least once a month.

This was a fast and absolutely outstanding recipe. Deeply spicey without being overwhelming. The sauce in the pan was delicious over rice; I'll make more paste next time since it is so good.


Tasty recipe, great flavors, maybe 4 or 4 1/2 stars, but it was so quick and easy and pleased everyone so I'm going for 5 stars. Even my picky kids and my spice-phobic husband loved it. Had a large, 1-1/2+ pound tenderloin which took slightly longer to cook, but the recipe as is provided plenty of the seasoning paste. Will definitely make again.

We loved it.

Quick and easy with excellent flavour. A little longer roasting time in my gas oven. Would definitely serve as a company dish.

The flavor is sooo good!!


Very good!

Wow, this was packed with flavor and will make it again only with even more of paste as it was so good.

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