Roasted Pork Leg in Adobo Sauce / Pierna de Puerco Adobada

Pierna Adobada14a
New Year’s Eve is a big celebration in Mexico accompanied with food, music and fireworks. Families gather to celebrate the end of the old year (“el año viejo”) and to welcome the new one. The firecrackers start just a few minutes before midnight, the glasses of wine start to get filled up, and right at 12:00 am everyone cheers and toasts to the New year, hugging each other and wishing the best for everyone in the
brand new year. It is also a time when people do some of the many traditional rites, like eating 12 grapes by the time the clock rings at midnight, which represents 12 wishes, or wearing red underwear to attract love. One thing that many families still do is to clean and paint their houses and get rid of old things to start the new year fresh.
But there’s one other thing that is also traditional in Mexico, the “recalentado”, meaning the leftovers that are reheated the next day. Yes, when cooking dinner for New Year’s Eve you keep in mind that the next day some friends or relatives will stop by to wish you a happy new year and for the recalentado (leftovers), that sometimes tastes better the next day. Roasted pork leg, tamales and Pork Leg in Adobo are some of the dishes that many families prefer for New Year’s Eve dinner since the leftovers are really tasty.
piernas de puercoa
For the marinada:
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of coarse salt
  • Alumninum foil or baking bag
For the Adobo Sauce
  • 8 Ancho Peppers, cleaned and deveined
  • 6 Pasilla Peppers, cleaned and deveined
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons of melted lard
*If you are using the baking bag, then the pork leg should beplaced inside the bag and then into a large baking dish. Marinate for at least 6 hours, or preferably, overnight. Turn the meat at least once during the process.  This step will tenderize the meat and infuses the flavors. Baking the meat in the oven bag will take less time and will render a juicy meat.
DIRECTIONS:pierna adobada2a
1. First pierce the pork leg with the help of a sharp knife.
2. Roast the garlic and onion on a skillet. Transfer the roasted onion and garlic along with bay leaves, oregano, black pepper, cumin, orange juice, vinegar and salt into a blender. Process until you have a smooth sauce, almost like a paste.
3. Transfer the Pork leg to a large baking dish and cover with the marinate sauce making sure it gets inside the incisions and penetrates the meat.
Now to the Adobo sauce instructions:
Pierna Adobada24
4. Toast the peppers on a griddle or comal over a medium heat. Remember that this is a quick step to avoid bitter flavors from burnt peppers.
5. Place the peppers in a small saucepan and cover with water. Simmer for about 8 minutes until they are soft. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
6. Drain the peppers and place them in your blender with the orange juice, vinegar, and water. Puree until mixture is smooth and season to taste with the salt.
7. Baking day,  remove pork leg from refrigerator and let stand until room temperature. Preheat oven 20 minutes before roasting at 350F .pierna adobada3a
8. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted lard on the meat, making sure to cover it all around. Then cover pork leg all over with half of the Adobo sauce and place in the preheated oven. Cover meat with aluminum foil. If using the baking bag, make sure to tie the bag and make the incisions according to the package instructions.
9. After 1  hour, turn the meat and baste with it’s own juices, baste the meat one hour later and turn the pork leg over.  Turn the meat at least twice during the cooking process.  It is very important to keep the baking dish tightly covered with aluminum foil to have a moistened meat. If you see that it’s getting dry, add more of the adobo sauce. The cooking time will depend on the pork leg’s size and weight. The average baking time is 1 hour of baking for every 2 Lbs. of meat.
10. When the meat can easily be pierced by a fork then it’s almost done. It will take about 5 hours. I like to have a moist, almost falling-apart meat. when you see that the meat is done, uncover and turn the oven temperature up to 450F. Roast for about 8-10 minutes to have browned meat. Make sure you don’t burn it. It will take just a few minutes. Remove meat and let stand about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.Pierna Adobada15
11. Place leftover juices from the baking pan and the remaining adobo sauce in a medium size skillet and simmer for about 8 minutes. Taste, add more salt if needed and add more of the spices used for the marinade if you wish to. Use this sauce to pour over the slices of meat when serving.

¡Buen provecho!


I hope you make it... If you do, please come back to let me know your experience.


  1. Happy New Year Mely! This recalentado looks so delicious, iI wish I was your neighbor!

    1. hola Prieta, gracias por Los buenos deseos, lo mismo para ti y ti familia.

  2. Can we cook this in a slow cooker?

    1. Hello Rosa,
      I had never tried, but it can work out.

      Happy Cooking!

  3. I made this to the T and I'm worried that it's too much vinegar

    1. Hello Whitney,

      The end results shouldn't have a strong vinegar flavor or taste, since it will cook and some evaporate while baking.

      Thank you for trying the recipe. :)

  4. What is the basting/roasting process if using an oven bag? What about cooking time for a 12 to 13 lb leg?

    1. Hello,

      Even though you use a cooking bag, you will have to open it to baste the roast. For a leg that big (12-13 pounds) about 4 to 4 1/2 hours. The best way to find out if it is completely cook, is buying a meat thermometer. Happy cooking!

  5. I made this for new years eve on 2015 and it came out so delicious.... 11lbs took me 5 and a half hours to cook using a turkey bag.... Meat fell right off the bone, with the suace over it. I was a winner. Will do this again!

    1. Hello,
      Thanks a lot for coming back and comment about the recipe. I'm sure people will find helpful to know about the cooking time using the bag. I'm so glad you enjoy it!

      Happy cooking!

  6. I too put it in an oven bag - I did a 15 pound leg and I left for 5.5 hours but could have took it out sooner but either way it was delicious. Only thing I did different was add some chicken boullion, dried oregano, achiote powder and lemon juice to the sauce both to pour over while cooking and the one you cook on stove.

    1. Hello Mexiguat,

      Great additions to the sauce!

  7. Hola Mely, felicidades en este fin de ano, y gracias por tanta ayuda en la cocina y mas. Tus recetas son invaluables para conservar nuestra historia y nuestras tradiciones. AHORA: tengo un pedido. En casa de la abuela, (General Zuazua, N.L.) se hacia un cocido llamado "cuajo". Yo pienso que era un plato muy antiguo; La sangre del becerro se separaba de la carne pero luego se utilizaba en una salsa. Lo conoces?

    1. Hola Roberto,

      FIjate que lo he comido, de hecho a mi esposo le gustaba mucho ir a comer "cuajo" cuando viviamos en Monterrey. Pero no se la receta. Lo voy a investigar y te aviso. Saludos!

  8. After the ingredients list, there is a note for marinating using a baking bag. What is the process for marinating without a baking bag? Do you just put the pork in a large baking dish, covered with foil, and let it marinate inside the fridge?

    1. Hello,

      Yes, exactly the way you describe it. Place in a large bowl or baking dish cover with foil. Thank you!
      Happy cooking!


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