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ideas for non-traditional sides with pernil

Hi Chowhounders,

I'm a financially strained phd student who wants to have six or seven other people over for a celebratory dinner. I have done this for the past two years, and both times have made pernil with the traditional sides: rice, black beans, and maduros (sweet plantains). Also a salad and a more traditional American dessert. I started this because I missed the pernil lunches I'd get from Dominican restaurants when I worked in NYC, but am now hooked on the pork shoulder idea because it's such an inexpensive way to make a delicious meal for a large group.

However, I'd like to switch things up this year and make some less traditional sides -- mostly things that might have more unusual flavor combinations. For example, for dessert I'm thinking about doing a lemon-poppy-chèvre cheesecake with rhubarb compote -- and would love sides that are in this vein, but would compliment the pernil. I've tried to search for menus at fancy restaurants that might serve pernil with something aside from the traditional sides to no avail, so I thought I'd ask for suggestions here. Also open to doing something else with the pork shoulder aside from pernil, though I only have access to an over and a four burner stovetop.

There are no dietary restrictions, but I'd love to keep to a decently low budget -- probably looking for one vegetable and one starch? I have access to a wide variety of Latin American produce (from the same store where I'll get the pork shoulder), a good Asian supermarket (kind of far away but I'll go if I have to) and also Whole Foods.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. You could take it in a southern direction with collards and cornbread. Or you could use the pork shoulder to make mock porchetta instead of pernil. Here are some ideas for what to serve with porchetta. http://food52.com/hotline/6612-side-d... and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/871320

    1. You could also do a bo ssam instead of pernil, and either do the traditional sides or choose a more Asian-fusion or pan-Asian approach.


      7 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        DROOL. this looks so good, and I'm thrilled to read about this idea. A friend is now bringing ceviche as an appetizer so I think I'm going to stick with Latin/New American flavors, but...I don't know...there is definitely a 40% chance that I will just switch to this! Thanks for the suggestion! If I don't make it this time I DEFINITELY will the next time.

        1. re: stephaniet

          Here's an older thread discussin' the dish. There's some solid 'hounding goin' on to help you whenever you decide to make it.


          1. re: stephaniet

            Have her make her ceviche with an Asian twist (lime juice, fish sauce, Thai basil, chopped red bell pepper and a little red or green curry paste instead of the usual Mexican ingredients) and you'll be all set for a pan-Asian bo ssam feast!!!!

            1. re: biondanonima

              That sounds awesome! But she's from Ecaudor, so I don't really feel comfortable telling her not to bring the dish she knows how to make quite well. Plus she volunteered to bring it, so I wouldn't feel comfortable dictating. But maybe if I give a preview of the Asian-version to come, she might have this idea on her own? :) (I could play up her half-east Asian heritage, ha)

              1. re: biondanonima

                And could be served with a green mango/green papaya slaw/salad! (Mostly making notes here for meal #2 :))

                To be honest my hesitation on the bo ssam (aside from telling my Ecuadorian friend to make Asian flavored ceviche, ha) is that I don't want to do a "do it yourself" meal, but rather something plate-able/a bit more fancy. I get that the bo ssam would be really special in its own way, but we all so rarely get to eat out at fancy restaurants that I wanted to do something more along those lines (plated food) for my friends.

                Hence wanting to make the side dishes a bit fancier rather than "homestyle" or "traditional." (No mofongo, no yucca, no plain potatoes -- flavors on all of these are too muted, and generally they are way starchier than what I'm imagining.)

                1. re: stephaniet

                  Makes perfect sense. I think the idea of making tostones "cups" for the ceviche would be beautiful, then - or you could serve it in a half an avocado. You might try gussying up the sweet plantains by making a mashed version with rum and cinnamon and then piping them and rebaking for a "duchess potato" style presentation. As for the rice - what about risotto? With roasted bell peppers or poblanos, maybe? You could serve it as a second course, after the ceviche, and then have your sweet plantains and maybe another vegetable with the pernil itself.

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    YES! now we are talking! :) great ideas!

          2. Morro y Yuca. Traditional, inexpensive, nutritious.

            1. Suggested sides for this Ecuadorian version of pernil
              Side dishes: Whole potatoes sauteed in butter, pickled onions, fried ripe plantains and tree tomato hot sauce.

              1. Gai Lan - chinese broccoli - sauteed and finished with a bit of oyster sauce and sesame oil; maybe a splash of vinegar. The slight bitterness is a good foil for the rich pork.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sbp

                  Not sure about these flavors with the pernil, but I think a hearty green like chinese broccoli would go great. I'm now thinking about doing a mashed sweet plantain, hopefully with some kind of dynamic flavor in it (horseradish? chipotle? need to think about this!), and yeah..a hearty green would go nicely. I wonder if there are recipes/ideas for less traditional preparations for gai lan.

                  1. some great Ideas here - I make pernil pretty often so I was very interested...

                    I think Texas Caviar would go very well...It's a dip. it's a salad... flavors match...



                    I hope you let us know which way you went...

                    I too can't wait to try the Bo Ssam... sounds yummy.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: sparky403

                      This looks nice and fresh -- especially in the first pic.

                      Still pondering things over (though sticking to a Cuban style pork shoulder) -- I'd really love it if the side dishes could elevate the whole meal to more of a New American restaurant-esque experience. I mean, I'm not going to make any foams or gels, but I'm trying to figure out how to make the sides (pretty sure I want one to be smashed sweet plantains) as bright, dynamic, and perhaps unexpected in their flavorings (flavor profiles ha) as possible.

                      Definitely going to make some pickled red onions. Also considering maybe a non-mayo quasi-mexican coleslaw as a salad? But then would I do greens as well? Actually your half-beans/half salad could work nicely in the same way. Decisions!

                      Also definitely making that bo ssam later this summer.

                      1. re: stephaniet

                        For the quasi-Mexican coleslaw, this is jicama cabbage poblano lime slaw is on my must-make list: http://ellysaysopa.com/2009/05/04/jic... -

                        1. re: GretchenS

                          Looks great, thanks! I might sub just underripe mangos for the carrots.

                          1. re: stephaniet

                            Fabulous idea, think I will steal it when I make this.

                        2. re: stephaniet

                          Mofongo? I've never made it - but there's lots of recipes's.


                          The pork Rinds should drive the theme home nicely..

                          Also, You mentioned Ceveche... I don't know how much trouble you want to go to.... but I saw ceveche served in Tostone' cups on DDD... there are lots of links of how to do etc.. I don't know if deep frying is an option.. but this would definitely keep it latin and I'd be damn impressed if anyone served me this...



                          I would also check Daisy Marteniz's site - she's the queen (imho) of Cuban / Puerto Rican Cusine. You might even drop her a note..

                          At the end of the day straight up Pernil with the sides is pretty nice..

                          1. re: stephaniet

                            My 'mexican coleslaw' is basically a fresh tomato salsa, with cabbage taking the place of tomatoes. In other words, chopped cabbage, lots of cilantro, salt, lime juice, and chile de jour (and some other items for color and texture contrast).

                        3. Last time I made it I served cous-cous with it and grilled zuchhini and eggplant, went over well, gotta have tortillas though.

                          1. Just wanted to pipe back in with current thoughts. Which are that I'm going to stick with the traditional sides I think, and just prepare them in non-traditional ways?

                            Right now I'm thinking about a pan-fried rice cake -- possibly even a "latin" risotto cake like this (http://www.chow.com/recipes/30557-min...), topped with traditional black beans, the "latin" slaw mentioned below, and plantains...now I'm kind of thinking that simply cutting them -- but in an unusual shape -- and frying probably is the right way to go to make sure that they caramelize. With some sort of sauce and homemade pickled onions as well.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: stephaniet

                              have you had your dinner yet? which way did you go?

                              1. re: sparky403

                                I did a traditional pernil, and...don't kill me for using the words traditional so many times in this post looking for non-traditional :)...traditional black beans, traditional sweet plantains/maduros, "latin" risotto cakes (roasted poblano chiles and cotija cheese) which were too heavy (traditional white rice would have been better), pickled onions (David Lebowitz's "easy" recipe -- these were insanely good, I'm making a new batch soon), and a "cole slaw" with cabbage, jicama, mango and cilantro in a cumin/lime-salt/olive oil dressing.

                                For a bit I was getting super into the idea of doing something else with the plantains - the idea of duchess plantains was cool, but a little "old school"/white table-clothy for my taste. I started thinking about plantains dauphine (like the french pommes dauphines -- fried mashed potato and choux pastry balls), but I was hesitant to deep fry and someone else pointed out that it's really the deep frying that caramelizes the plantains. Of course in the end the plantains were essentially deep fried anyway, which is making me realize that maybe i'll use the remaining plantain that i have to try "plantains dauphins."

                                the risotto cakes, which I moulded in ramekins for a few hours in the fridge and then pan browned, were actually good on their own, just much too heavy for the meal. too chicken stock-y i think.

                                the biggest hit by far was a chèvre cheesecake with rhubarb-rasperry-ginger compote and crushed candied pistachios that i made for dessert, which had nothing to do with the latin meal that preceded it.

                                but still i managed to feed 8 people for maybe $70 total? (9 lbs of pork shoulder was $13) i also have the best value grocery store i've ever been to in my backyard. :)

                                1. re: sparky403

                                  also, i thought i was being a bit crazy by making a critical path chart of all the shopping, prep work, refrigeration, burner time, and oven time, but i was not! i don't think i want to make another 10 item meal (including things like pickled onions and candied pistachios as "items") for 8 people for another year!

                                  1. re: stephaniet

                                    wow - sounds awesome - It's pretty hard to beat the traditional Pernil - though it sounds as if you went off. Pickeled onions are key.

                                    I too get a "I'm never doing this again" mentality after doing a big feast - but I always do anyway.

                                    I'm not that familar with the critcal path chart (using your education already I see).

                                    When I do a big meal I just think about how much time everything is going to take, what I can prep a head etc, and work backwards from there.... I'm sure your way is more effective because not everthing makes it to the table doing it my way:-) . I have the handicap of a very small kitchen / apartment and having to transport the food to who ever's foolish enough to host..lol.

                                    It's amazing how cheaply you can feed a big crew when you really put your mind to it. However, I find the last minute trips to the store end up killing the actual numbers / budget - I get the "but I'll have it for next time syndrome'

                                    on another note - I Just read the Bo Ssam thread above - indeed some serious hounding going on with that one... If you have'nt and have an extra 45 minutes I reccomend.. sounds like weather you master it or not it's still good.

                                    Thank gawd for the low cost food centers and high(er) brow cooking...

                              2. I recommend fresh green beans boiled with ham hocks then sautéed with bacon, onion and garlic slivers and topped with chopped tomato and cilantro.


                                Collard/Mustard greens and onions cooked with crispy bacon and diced ham in a hamhock and beer broth with molasses and lime juice.

                                Serve mashed green plantains under the meat with pork juices and a dab of cilantro lime pesto.

                                -A Puertorican/African American chef.