Pernil over Quinoa & Black Beans Slow Cooker Recipe

Although it may be tough to eat healthy during the holidays, there’s always a way to enjoy traditional meals in a healthier way. Pernil (pork) is a dish that many within our diverse NYC community enjoy during the holidays. This healthier recipe uses a slow cooker to prepare a boneless pork shoulder blade roast to reduce the fat, and serves the pernil over quinoa and black beans, instead of rice. Among other benefits, including quinoa in your holiday meal can improve your digestion and help keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Tools you’ll need

Slow cooker (Crock pot)
Fine-mesh strainer
2-quart saucepan with lid
Mixing bowl
Small bowl


3 lb boneless pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
3 oranges, juice of (1/2 cup)
2 limes, juice of
1 cup uncooked quinoa (any variety — white or golden, red, or black)
2 cups water
15-ounce can black beans, no salt added, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
juice from 1 medium lemon or lime
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric


  1. Cut slits into the pork and stuff the cuts with half of the crushed garlic. Combine the coarse salt, oregano, cumin, crushed black pepper, orange and lime juices, then pour over pork. Place it all in the ceramic part of the crock pot, cover it and refrigerate it overnight. Mix the pork occasionally so the marinade gets a chance to cover all of the pork.
  2. The next day, remove the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, remove the pork and use two forks to shred it apart. Remove liquid from the crock pot, keeping one cup to the side. Add the pork back into the crock pot and the leftover cup of the liquid. Check on the pepper and cumin, as you may need to add a bit more. Let it cook another 15-30 minutes.
  3. Take one  cup of quinoa and place into a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse thoroughly with cool water and rub the quinoa with your hand for about two minutes, then drain.
  4. Stir the rinsed quinoa into a pot, add two cups of water and bring to a rolling boil.
  5. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to the lowest setting. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from heat and let it stand, covered, for five more minutes.
  7. Mix together the black beans, quinoa, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño in a mixing bowl.
  8. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and turmeric in a small bowl.
  9. Pour mixture over the quinoa in the mixing bowl and toss. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe yields about six servings.

Recipe adapted from