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Feb 22, 2004 06:53 PM

Cooking with Pork Shoulders?

  • b


I was at the butcher recently and they were having a special on "Pork Shoulders" - these huge chunks of Pork that were practically the size of roast chickens. My question is how to cook these things? I was thinking of buying one and cutting it up and cooking those smaller pieces? But I am not sure what meats come from the pork shoulder- as in, do they get pork tenderloins from them? Or meat for bacon? Or ground pork? Or a ham? Am I making sense? Like with a cow- the meat from the shoulder is different from the meat from the middle torso area...and so on. If anyone has any recipes, hints or tips on what to do with Pork Shoulders, I'd appreciate it greatly. Thank you,


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  1. Shoulder or shoulder butt?

    Shoulder butt is rather fatty. I have seen it sliced up into steaks for grilling. The extra fat keeps them from getting dry and tough.

    Shoulder is not quite as fatty, and a bit tougher, but I find that pork, with the right cooking, is rarely tough.

    No, tenderloin does not come from this cut. To my knowledge, it's sold as is.

    Both shoulder and shoulder butt are great cut into chunks and used in stews. I trim off the larger chunks of pure fat before cutting into pieces, but you could choose to skim later.

    Both are also great roasted--low and slow. The extra fat keeps the meat juicy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Colleen

      Its my understanding that the term butt comes from the barrels they used to ship the shoulders in. That the meat is just labeled two different ways.

      1. re: Becca Porter

        There are (1) whole shoulder, consisting of both the butt portion and the "shoulder;" (2) the butt, or upper shoulder portion; and (3)the shoulder, or lower shoulder portion.

        The term doesn't come from the shipping containers, but from the expression meaning the large end of something.

    2. Braise the shoulder is the first thing that comes to mind. Depending on the choice of spices, you can have great taco/burrito meat, or great pulled pork sandwiches, or great sugo for spaghetti, etc.

      Try to cook at least a day ahead as the shoulder is fatty and the extra day allows you to refrigerate the dish and lift off the cold fat.

      I also use shoulder to make sausages as the fat/meat ratio is almost perfect. Which also means that ground shoulder will make a terrific meat loaf or pate.

      1. A pork shoulder is the hog's shoulder or front legs. Ham is the hog's rear legs. A tenderloin in located along the hog's side. Bacon is the pork belly.

        Pork shoulders are usually pretty cheap at the supermarkets and can be cut up in several ways.

        First, I like to debone the roast. This involves renoving the shoulder blade which is the only bone. Then I cut the meat into either steaks, or I tie the meat into a roast. Sometimes, I dice the meat to make a pork stew - maybe chile verde or my favorite, posole - pork and hominy stew.

        Other than the hassle of the bone, I like the meat as it has sufficient fat to have some flavor and sufficient lean.

        1. Had the same quandry recently when my "pork share" from community sponsored agriculture had a huge shoulder. My boyfriend did extensive research, and came up with braising as the ideal technique. He braised it very, very, slowly (as in all night and most of the next day) in apple cider with sliced onions and it was melt in the mouth succulent.

          1. I cook pork shoulders frequently. Around here they usually sell for about 60-90 cents/lb. so it is a very economical cut of meat. But the meat is naturally quite tough and requires cooking for a long time to make it tender. What I do is to first trim off the entire thick layer of skin and outside fat. Next I place it in a pan with about 1/4" of oil to brown the outside surface. Then I put it in a large crock pot with no liquid added and let it slowly cook until most of the fat has cooked away and the meat is very tender. At the low heat setting this can take up to 11 hours for a 7-8 lb. shoulder. Remove it from the crock pot and let it stand for 30-40 minutes and then separate the lean meat from the bone and gristle. It will yield several lbs. of tender and juicy chunks pork that you can serve as roast pork or many other ways. The liquid remaining after cooking also makes good pork gravy. I often put some of the pork cooked this way into a baking dish, pour bbq sauce over it and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sam D.
              Steve Drucker


              Not to change this thread, but now I understand why your Las Vegas suggestions, although rare, have always been spot-on.

              To get back on track: I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that shredded bbq pork (with or without sauce) always starts with pork shoulder.

              1. re: Steve Drucker

                Thanks for the encouraging words, Steve.