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? About Slow Oven Cooking Pork Shoulder

A bought a beautiful (but expensive) pork shoulder from the local farmers market a few weeks ago and followed the directions the farmer gave me - put it in a casserole dish w/o any seasonings and cook at 225 over night. In the morning take the lid off and let it cook a bit more. Take it out of the oven, put it in the fridge until cool and then take it out, remove the fat and pull apart. She just throws her homemade bbq sauce on it (delish but too spicy for my sensitive innards) before serving but I opted for a southern apple cider vinegar/brown sugar combo and the results were nothing short of fabulous.

This time around I'm making it for a little 4th of July party and wound up getting a pork shoulder at the supermarket instead. It's not as purty as the other one and seems to look a little more fatty. No problem there...I'm just wondering if I might want to keep the lid off my pot longer in order to carmelize some of that fat - or will it wind up drying the whole thing out? I have no problem with dafatting afterwards but if I can make it taste yummy and keep it, I'd much rather do that.:)

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  1. Why cool it before you pull it apart? Normally we cook pork shoulders on the bbq pit to somewhere between 190-205 degrees internal for pulled pork. When it is ready to take off the pit it wants to fall apart all by itself......

    1. I have a good suggestion for pork shoulder that will get you nice caramelized fat and juicy and crisp pork. I've been trying to recreate Carnitas without deepfrying the pork shoulder in lard. I found a method discussed here and elsewhere that really works quite well. I put the shoulder in the dutch oven with four cloves of garlic, fill it with water and boil it on low until the meat is tender. usually 2.5-4 hours. Next it take the meat out, shred it and throw all of the big fat chunks back in the water. I will then cook the water and fat until the water is gone and the fat get nice and toasty. I'll then take out the big pieces of fat and blend the rest of the fat with a fork so there are no big chunks. Then i pour the fat over the shredded pork and bake it at 350 for 20 or so minutes. It is super tender, with a nice blend of crisp and moist pork and is absolutely delicious. I've done it four times now and it has yet to fail me.

      1. There's plenty of internal fat in a pork shoulder, I wouldn't worry about it being dry.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BackyardChef

          I agree on this one totally. There's tons of internal fat in a pork shoulder that will ensure the sucker is tender and moist so long as you don't cook it to smithereens. Which is pretty hard to do. Follow BackyardChef's advice and take it to 195-ish. Basically, it's done when that bone pops out clean as a whistle.

          Also agree with the poster below. Pork is flavorful on its own, but giving it a bold, flavorful rub will only improve the meat.

        2. First of all, I would not cook it "without any seasoning." That really doesn't make any sense at all. IMO it needs to be seasoned before cooking, like all meat does. I use a rub 12 hours or overnight before cooking. Then braise in a flavorful sauce, which gets enhanced by the pork's drippings.

          Neither does "pulling" it when cold.

          This is what I would suggest: Cook it like you did before with a lid on. Do not cook 2nd time with lid off. Remove the meat and let cool till you can handle it comfortably. Meanwhile, pour any drippings into a gravy separator or, if no separator, in a bowl and put into fridge.

          Pull the pork while it is still warm. It's a zillion times easier to do it warm than cold. You should be able to remove any discernable fat that you do not want manually this way. You'll probably have a big fat cap to pull off, as well as other pieces which have not been rendered.

          The degreased drippings should be mixed back into the pulled meat to keep it moist.

          3 Replies
          1. re: C. Hamster

            I agree. No need to chill it before pulling. After you pull it out of the oven, let it rest for about an hour before ripping it to shreds.

            1. re: Hapa Dude

              I will add that a pair of gloves like these are VERY useful:
              http://www.servu-online.com/Kitchen-E...

              Nothing beats using your hands. The rough grip means that you won't have the meat sliding all over the place, the lining gives a far amount of protection against burning yourself with hot fat. Make sure your get gloves coating in a food safe, not the stinking kind of rubber.

            2. re: C. Hamster

              OMG, I totally agree with C. Hamster...ya gotta season it...before cooking!

            3. In the winter I typically cook pork shoulders (usually in the 5lb range) in the oven 8hrs at 225(uncovered) with fat cap up after at least 12 hours plastic wrapped in whatever dry rub mixture I am using at the time. I then wrapped it in foil and let it sit at least 30 minutes usually an hour before tearing apart and then mix in about 1/2 the drippings.

              May I ask what is expensive, I see pork shoulder for as low as .99 BJs/Costco to 1.99 mainstream grocery store to $3.00lb at Whole Foods.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mkel34

                I won't speak for the original poster, but to answer the question of the upper limits of pricing on a local, super-natural, beyond-organic, heirloom breed pig, i would say maybe $9/lb? I mean, that's the absolute top. 5-8 would be more likely, but still much higher than any of the others.

              2. If you'd like to try a somewhat different approach, try looking up recipes for "Red Cooked Pork" (you'll find plenty). This uses sherry, star anise, ginger, garlic and soy sauce to create a delicious braise, and you end up with a fantastic tasting shoulder, plus a great sauce to serve along side. It's not exactly BBQ, but it is delicious, and it'll have your guests talking for sure.

                1. I once met the owner of a barbecue restaurant in my neighborhood. They had some of the best pulled pork I've ever eaten. He talked about his technique, and it involved cooking it one day, then chilling it. He would then reheat it slowly for the event. The reason, he explained, is that cooling it seals in the juices. If you cut it when it's too hot the juices just run out onto the plate. That said, I usually eat it the same day -- if I spent the time, I can't wait to eat it!

                  Second, I've never spent more than $1.20 a pound for a pork shoulder. The reason you cook it so long is that it's not supposed to be a good, tender cut. Getting a 'fancy' expensive pork shoulder seems like a contradiction.

                  I also think that's why the restaurant I mentioned above went out of business -- they tried to be an upscale fancy restaurant for barbecue, which is a bit of a contradiction.