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Quick pork shoulder question

I have finally gotten around to trying the slow-roasted pork shoulder that's been killing me on this board for the past year or two. Picked up an 8-ish pound one for 99 cents a pound the other day. NOW - just to be clear here - do you take the skin off or not before roasting? I am not going to use my slow cooker, but plan to do it in a roasting pan in the oven for, like, 8-10 hours. I also gather it should not be covered, right?

Thanks, veterans.

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  1. Leave the skin on -- it will help to retain moisture and allow for the slow release of basting fat during the long cooking period. Just peel it back and tuck the onions underneath and recover. I made it without the onion once because I was lazy and it was still fab. I've also made it with a roast that came with no skin and it turned out fine.

    1. Just last week I roasted a bone-in pork shoulder. I trimmed all the fat that I could and prepared it with a spicey dry rub in the fridge overnight. The next morning I brought it to room temperature for a couple of hours, then roasted it, uncovered in a 250 degree oven for 8 hours. It was so juicy and and flavorful, it was hard for my family to stop picking at it while I tried to serve dinner.

      1. You can't go wrong with either skin-on or skin-off. The meat has a lot of fat anyway. For different flavors, try brining, marinating, or injecting, then dry rub with a mixture of sugar and spices. Mmmm... pork.

        1. If you leave the skin on, the skin will get crisp and be delicious (and much of the fat will render out, anyway). There is a Puerto Rican recipe called pernil, always made with the skin on, in which you poke the roast with a knife and insert a flavor mixture including garlic (Google pernil to see the various options; my coworker uses garlic, Adobo, a small amount of Sazon Goya, and some vinegar and oil to make a paste that is inserted in the slits and rubbed on the outside).

          I tried this for New Year's and it was quite good; it will be even better once I learn the vagaries of the oven in my new apartment.

          1. I always cook with the skin on then after it is done remove the skin, scrape off any excess fat on the back of the skin and put the skin back in the oven until very crisp. You got cracklings! Delicious sprinkled on some of the meat or in cornbread.

            1. There is so much internal fat with a pork shoulder, it doesn't need a layer of skin and fat to protect it and keep it moist. So it's all just personal preference.

              If I cook it at a higher heat (275 or above) I leave the skin on, but score it in a diamond pattern, mostly through the fat, but not quite to the meat. That allows the fat to drain and contributes to a crisp skin.

              If I do it low and slow, I usually take the skin off, as it doesn't get as crisp as I like and it impedes the ability to infuse it with more flavor.

              If I'm smoking it for BBQ, I ALWAYS take off the skin so I can get more bark from the rub.

              1. Somewhat tangential, but I'm cooking a pork shoulder right now, and the recipe says that in this particular case, I should cut the cape of fat off the top and either toss it, or save it for another use.

                What, pray tell, are these other uses? I wonder this each and every time I work with pork shoulder, but I've yet to find a specific purpose.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kittywithawhippet

                  you can make chicharron and render your own lard with that fat cap. Works great for it.

                  If there's no skin and just fat, you can also use it in certain sausage making applications where extra pork fat is needed (often). Can't think of anything else off hand, but those are two very worthy uses.

                  Good luck!

                2. if you leave the skin on, you should cut into it (but not into the meat) making cross crosses so that you are left with a checkerboard pattern. when your roast is done you will have cracklins

                  1. i have done it both ways as well. either leave it on but slash it with a knife, or remove it and make cracklings separately to serve with the pork. side note -- i've recently discovered the joys of a fresh ham, prepared similarly.

                    1. just made pulled pork this past weekend in the slow cooker...so easy...i had 7 pounder...put it in the cooker with two bottles of beer and two bottles of my favorite barbecue sauce...covered...cooked on low for 12 hours...shredded with two forks...came out perfectly...served on hamburger buns topped with a very good store-bought cole slaw and aunt fanny's butter pickles...got raves from family and friends...rolled up flour tortillas with leftovers...added shredded lettuce and taco sauce...had that for dinner tonight...yummy