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how to cook 10lbs of pork shoulder?

Does anyone have clue as to how to prep and cook a 10lb pork shoulder? I am getting one from fresh direct (which is amazing by the way!) and would like to make something called "fresh ham". But how do you tenderize or how much heat? Thank you so much for your help chowhounders!


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  1. not to sound too cheesy, but cook it slow and low. i find everytime i cook pork shoulder, i just turn my oven to the lowest setting possible and leave it in there for at least 8 hours(making carnitas). obviously the time does depend on hour big your pork is and how you want it cooked. a good rule of thumb is to cook it 30 minutes per pound @ 350°. thusly 5 hours would do the trick. you can put a dry rub on it or even brine it overnight. hope this helps!

    5 Replies
    1. re: artfuldestruct

      wow, I am always so pleased with the advice you chowhounders give me. Thank you for that awesome instruction. I will do the 5 hour trick. I greatly appreciate your knowledge!

      1. re: sukmon

        i actually did this with a pork shoulder for 24 hours. It did need salt, though, the recipe didn't call for it, but it definitely needed it. I put the oven on a high temp for an hour, then on 250 until the middle of the following day. It was fantastic. We went crazy for it.

        1. re: sukmon

          Don't forget to turn the oven to high ( or put on broil) after the roast is cooked to make sure the skin is nice and crispy. I have a 6 pounder in the freezer that I can't wait to cook. Had the butcher take out the bone, so I will make a stuffing with apples, bread and spices. So good!

          1. re: elgordoboy

            no it goes down to 200°, but i suggested the cooking at 350° for a medium rare cooking. when making carnitas i usually put a dry rub of spices and brown sugar and roast at 200° for at least 8 hours. just two different recipes. also i have noticed that when you roast that long at that temp the outside does get crispy(however this does depend on the size of the pork). i usually shred it up after that and fry in a little butter to make tacos.

        2. I like to do it the " Jamaican" way: coat the butt (or pork shoulder) in jerk spices and marinate in Dr. Pepper or Coke. Sounds strange, I know, but the carbonation really tenderizes the meat and the sugar caramelizes everything. I leave a little of the marinade in the roasting pan and then cook covered about 6 hours, turning occasionally. Then I uncover for an hour to get a nice crispy skin. If you remove the fat from the left over juice it is a nice base for a BBQ sauce.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tbear

            A barbeque pork rib rub with brown sugar also works, you could use apple juice with some pepper if a liquid is needed, and finish with some bbq sauce. You could even cut it up like those "country style" rib meat that you see, or cut them into pork steaks, etc.

          2. Make Pernil!!! just google and you will get tons of recipes. Or you can just bring to boil and simmer couple hours until tender and slice ans serve w brown gravy-simple and delicious. I would go the pernil route tho

            2 Replies
            1. re: UES Mayor

              I must agree with the pernil suggestion, though I rarely work with one that size ... more like 4-6 pounds. Whatever you decide, you're going to need a pig pan.

              1. re: NYChristopher

                A lot of cryovac pork shoulders come 2 in a package. I wouldn't be surprised if Sukmon finds 2 5lb shoulders.

            2. wow. we need to straighten out a few things here.

              A pork shoulder usually refers to an entire front shoulder, which includes the picnic (lower portion) and the butt (upper portion). Either alone go about 6 lbs, together, 10-12 or more. This cut is usually used for either pulled pork (slow BBQ) or roasted pork (in the oven, similar to BBQ without the wood).

              The rear section is referred to as the picnic, and is where the hams come from. Fresh ham is different from the results of a front shoulder. So you may want to be sure which cut you're getting.

              You can not simply put a shoulder, or portion thereof, into a 350 oven and be certain it will be done in 5 hrs. In BBQ, they say "it's done when it's done..." in the case of shoulders, when the internal temp reaches about 200. If you cook on a smoker at 225, it could likely take a good 10-12 hrs or more. If you cook in the oven, I would still not go over 275-300 on the temp... you need to break down the tough collagen in that shoulder (which is where the flavor is), and that takes a long time. You dont want to turn the exterior into moon rocks before you achieve the goal inside.

              Hit that shoulder with a nice rub, make up some vinegar sauce on the side, and go low and slow. Let it rest, pull it apart, and add some sauce. Lovely. But don't expect a ham, unless you're using a rear picnic.

              6 Replies
              1. re: woodburner

                All the advice so far is excellent. I would only add that if you don't want to cook all 10 lbs at once, you can cut it into portions and freeze for later use. I'm cooking part of a ham (4 lbs) today -- soaked it overnight at remove salt and put it in the slow cooker today, covered with apple cider. Can't wait to get home for dinner!

                1. re: woodburner

                  Woodburner, you cook to an internal temperature of 200 degrees F?

                  I also keep the temperature very low -- at 225 degrees F -- and use a spice rub of pimenton (smoked paprika), salt, brown sugar, and small amounts of chili powder and instant espresso. It's very good.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    200, you bet! In traditional BBQ, pork shoulder and beef brisket as well goes to about 190-200 internal. Both of those cuts have lots of tough collagen that only starts to break down around 170... at that point, the fat starts to melt and deliver flavor, and the meat is fall apart tender at around 190-200. Some people do pork butt to about 170-180 for slicing, but it is primo and super tender at 190-200. Very different than less fatty cuts... I do whole beef fillet and rib roasts to about 130 internal, which carries up to about 140, for a nice med-rare.

                    What temps do you take pork butt to?

                    1. re: woodburner

                      I'm pleased that you ask.

                      I have no idea. That is a lack of data on my part, because I own three Insta-Time
                      temp gauges and use them frequently but never has a one pierced my pork butt.
                      Perhaps I haven't totally erred -- I've roasted low and slow with a good spice rub for a certain number of minutes per pound (this is usally 4-6 hours) but I can see that your precision has merits. I'm gettin' a temp on my pork butt next time, you betcha, woodburner.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        yeah, girl! the other way to check doneness is, of course, to tug and twist the bones that are in the picnic and the butt... when they twist and pull out of the butt, then it is done.

                  2. re: woodburner

                    Sorry woodburner, you are of course correct. I tried both the picnic and the butt for a few pernils I made this year and had to learn the difference. I must have assumed sukmon was working with one or the other but not the whole shebang.

                  3. Russ Parsons of the LA Times is a big proponent of this cut of meat. He says to score the outside and roast it low and slow. The meat stays moist and the skin crisps up like bacon. He has written a couple of articles about this. Here is a link to his recipe that was in an article on the top ten ten recipes of 2005 from the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/.... (If this link doesn't work, let me know and I'll figure out how to get it to you.)

                    1. I should say too that my significant other cooked one of these for a big group. (One thing that is great is how cheaply you can feed a group with this cut.) He brined it first and thought that was a good idea. Of course, he brines everything. : )

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: karykat

                        (SMACK!) Now why didn't I think of that? I made a few pernils in the last year and found the flavor nice but the texture dry. Certainly I could brine, the marinade, then slow roast. Thanks karykat!

                        BTW, if your SO would care to share their brine recipe, I know I would appreciate it (I have a brine recipe around somewhere but have never actually done it ... [duck rotten tomatoes thrown my way])

                        1. re: NYChristopher

                          Here's what Paul says about the brining. He uses the brining recipe Judy Rodgers gives in the Zuni Cafe cookbook. Here are the proportions for pork: for 7-8 cups water, use 6 tbsp sugar, 3-4 tbsp salt (the greater amount if using kosher), a couple bay leaves crumbled, some juniper berries, and a couple chiles (if you want, we don't). There should be enough water to cover the meat; the meat needs to be immersed. She says brine for 5-7 days (but I would never let him do it that long). Take the meat out of the brine for a day before cooking to cure evenly (otherwise the outer part will be saltier.) Put the meat in the brine at room temp or slightly cooler to begin with (not really cold). Paul puts the meat in the brine at room temp, leaves that way for an hour then refrigerates it. I guess the concern is so that the meat and brining solution is not so very cold initially that the brine doesn't penetrate. So that's what Judy Rodgers says and what he does. I think you would find more guidance in her book. I see in another thread that she has a method for salt roasting chickens that was highly recommended. So it sounds like she is the queen of salt. This sounds complicated, but after you have done it once, I think it is second nature.

                          1. re: karykat

                            Doesn't sound difficult at all really.

                            If not 5-7 days, which I would be skittish, perhaps 3 days in then 1 day out?

                            Thanks for this. Haven't made the pernil recently but expect to in the next six weeks as the weather gets colder.

                      2. I have cooked many a pork sholder (Boston Butt 6-10 lbs)) I salt the pork well and
                        place it on a V rack. I place the pork in the oven at 350 degrees, and after one hour, I reduce the temperature to 210 degrees, and cook for an additional 10 hours. The pork is always tender and falling off of the bone. Cooks perfect every time.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Roger

                          I see that Russ Parsons sears his first, then roasts at 450 degrees for a half hour then turns the heat down for the long slow duration. I suspect the purpose is the same in Roger's version -- to get the outside on the way to crisping.

                        2. If you have access to tomatillos and large tortillas, you can make enough burrito filling to feed a small army.

                          1. Zuni Cafe Cookbook has a recipe for moch porchetta that I would recommend for pork shoulder.

                            1. Tyler Florence has an excellent recipe that folks have raved about both in the Food TV recipe comments section and on the CH Board.


                              I've made it and it's great, but I only used the rub and didn't get as far as the BBQ Sauce. Next time...

                              1. My question in reading all replies is do you cook it on a rack? Do you cover it with foil
                                or wrap it in foil? I've rubbed my shoulder with smoked paprika, ground thyme, salt,
                                pepper, garlic powder and a little brown sugar.....and put in on a rack with the fat-side up
                                ...uncovered for this first hour at 350. It is only 4 pounds. At the end of this hour, I want to wrap it in foil, surround it with onions and cut the temp to about 250.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: InletGirl

                                  You may wrap in foil if you like, but even ay only 4 lbs, the shoulder butt or picnic section has plenty of fat in it to stand up to uncovered cooking. In fact, most people want the crispy "bark" that develops when it is uncovered. I would just add in the veggies but keep it uncovered. It will become very tender once the internal meat temp hits about 200. It will be nicely "sliceable" but not yet pullable at 180 internal. How long do you expect it to cook? Could take 6 or more hours for a 4-lber... a 6 to 8 lber will take 10-12 hrs., or more...

                                  1. re: woodburner

                                    Are you all working with a cold, straight-from-the-fridge roast or are you letting it get to room temp before you put it in a preheated oven, or does it matter at all, since it's being cooked all day?

                                  2. re: InletGirl

                                    Fascinating thread, and timely too since I plan to cook a large shoulder cut (10lb++) for a New Years gathering. To prepare for this I tried Epicurious' pulled pork sugo recipe and it came out great (with some modifications). That recipe calls for a salted 2lb butt roasted at 325 for 2 hours covered and 1-2 hours more uncovered. But I can tell that recipe needs more work -- like longer, slower roasting with a dry rub!

                                    I have the same questions you have about covered or not, rack or none. I also wonder about adding vegetables to the roast. Will the steam from the veggies mess up the pork+salt+fat roasting happiness? I worry that the steam will draw away the salt and make the roast tougher. For my sugo I added some shallots for the uncovered part of the roast, which worked out well. But I wonder if it will be different when I lower the temp and increase the times. Or will it be even better, almost confit-like?

                                    I'm also wondering about pulled or sliced? At this point I'm leaning towards repeating the pulled pork sugo over pasta approach, but some of the prime pieces of the roast I ate while pulling the rest was sooo yummy. Is there a portion of the shoulder I can ask my butcher to prepare for me that yields a more sliceable roast that can stand on its own? Or is pulled the way to go?

                                    1. re: BernalKC

                                      Boston Butts are for the most part sliceable after the one bone is pulled out after roasting......you can also have a Boneless Boston Butt Roast or Boneless Pork Shoulder, or Boneless Fresh ham all suitable for easy slicing.

                                      Lidia Bastianich has a nice recipe where she starts out with 4-5 pounds of sliced onions.


                                  3. I am planning to make an 8lb pork shoulder this weekend for pulled pork. I plan to remove the skin, use a dry rub and cook it low and slow. My question is - do I cover it or not? TIA

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: beanodc

                                      Yes, I cover mine, then turn it to high towards the end to crisp up the skin.

                                      1. re: beanodc

                                        I suppose people do it both ways. For BBQ, it is not covered. The shoulder has plenty of fat and will not dry out if not covered. When left open, it will develop a deeper and crispier "bark," or exterior, whether in the smoker or oven. Go uncovered. The key is cooking it to an internal temp of about 200 for pulling. Before that point, it will be sliceable, but not pullable. If "low" means 250-275, think about giving it 10 hours or a little more. If it means 275-300, plan for maybe 8 hrs to get to 200.

                                        1. re: woodburner

                                          My 8lb shoulder became an11 lber. It had been in the oven uncovered at 200 for 8 hours and I raised the oven to 225 2 hours ago. It is close to being done but not there yet. I dry rubbed it with a classic BBQ rub and it smells delicious. Thanks for the help.

                                      2. I fire up my old gas grill, crank it to 550, throw the generously salted and peppered 6 or 7 lb. Butt on and sear it for about 10 minutes total... I get it nice and grill-marked on all sides. Crispy is good! Then I throw into a tight fitting, covered, oven pan, those oval shaped dark blue w/white speckled ones! I turn the grill down so the temp is right at 200... no higher!!! I add a chopped onion, a few teaspoons of chopped garlic and a medium (14oz) can of diced or crushed tomatoes and let it slow cook for at least 6 hours, 8 or 9 is perfect. Amazing, awesome flavor and super tender... it never fails! Serve on rice or with tortillas, beans, etc.