The pork shoulder was placed in a brining mixture for 72 hours. Brining is basically water saturated with salt, which is used to perserve foods. The brine was a combination of water, vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaf, rosemary, chipotle sauce.
Simply mix all the ingredients together and place the pork in the pot and refridgerate for three days.
After the 72-hour brine, the pork is almost pickled. You can really sense the biting aromas of vinegar and rosemary.
Seasoning the shoulder follows the brine. I used toasted cumin, garlic and onion powder, black and white pepper.
Season all sides of the pernil generously. Place it in a roasting pan and add water to the bottom.
The pernil should be in the oven for about 6 hours. Starting with an oven temperature of 250 degrees, I covered the pan with foil and roasted for 3 hours. Then i removed the foil and roasted for another 3 hours. You want to gage your roasting time based on the temperature of the thick, middle part of meat. 180 degrees internal temp seems done to me. You can see the pork fat has rendered out and the meat is rip apart ready.
Let the Pernil sit and rest for 10 minutes or so to let juices redistribute. The brine solution is still aromatic, the sweet smell of vinegar, earthy whiff of rosemary, smokiness of toasted cumin.
It is time to prepare the AREPAS! The key ingredient for making arepas is Harina Pan cornmeal. It is a precooked cornmeal type. It is also called masarepa or masa precocida. It can be found in Latino Markets but I purchased my Harina Pan on Ebay. Masa Harina, other type of cornmeal, can not be used as a substitute.
All you need is Water, Salt, Pepper, and Harina Pan cornmeal.
i just eyeballed the measurements of each ingredient. You want enough water to mix with the cornmeal to create a mushy, moist dough. Too much dryness, just add more water.
The Venezuelan corncakes are small, about a 5” disc. Form a ball between your palms and compact it to make a disc.
Arepas can be cooked in many ways, placed in a deep fryer, baked, pan fried, grilled. I choose to start cooking them by a quick cast-iron pan sear to create a crispy crust on the outside of the cakes. About 4-5 minutes per side on a hot pan.
After the pan-searing was completed, I threw them in the oven and baked at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. The Arepas came out smelling fresh similar to hot-served cornbread.
To fill the Arepas, split them in half like a bagel, or what I like to do, is cut out a nice pocket, scoop out a little of the soft dough middle, and stuff it like a pita sandwich.
Pernil-Venezuelan Roast Pork served in Arepas with a side of salsa verde.....done.
A true tasty adventure, one that is pleasing to the mind, heart, and soul (and belly)!!!