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pork shoulder in crock pot

My first time doing pork shoulder, and am also new to crock pots. Aiming to do bbq pulled pork. I've dry rubbed the 7 lb shoulder...huge fat layer on bottom. Should the shoulder go in the crock pot (for 8-10 hours) fat side up or down? Does it matter? Also, throw in a cup or so of beer on the pot with the shoulder? Thanks for advice!

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    Have you checked to see if that big boy will fit in your slow cooker? I'm having a devil of a time with the bigger ones fitting in Dutch ovens that I have. Twice I've had to use a 5+ pound rock to hold my lid down. I'd hate for you to get a nasty, last minute surprise.

    Also, my opinion is very, very little liquid of any type. But that will be mentioned in the other posts.

    1. I usually remove the BIG fat layer, but that's just personal preference. I'd put it in fat down though. I add about 1/3 c. liquid (my vinegar barbecue sauce) but there are lots of juices at finish. I would say no liquid is really necessary.


      1. Adding to whateveryone else said, don't even think of getting rid of that resultant sauce, but do de-grease ...that way you really don't have to take the fat off your roast in advance. I would put it in the slow cooker fat side up, but thats only because I have managed to convince myself that pork fat is healthy! My Dad taught me this...he's 86 and out hiking right now or he'd tell you himself.

        BTW, I'd go light on the addition of any commerical barbecue sauce that has vinegar listed as one of the top ingredients. I don't know about others, but I found that slow-cookers tend to intensify the vinegary aspect of some dishes. Best if you make your own sauce and keep the acid in balance.

        1. I do pork shoulder in my c-pot all the time. Always put the fat on top - it slowly melts into the meat. You shouldn't need any liquid - it'll self-braise. As for the time, I usually don't work with that big of a cut, so you may need to increase the time a little - an hour or two on low.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Phurstluv

            Fat side up definitely, I do add 1/2 of a good dark beer, I just like the flavor, but don't use any of the liquid for my sauce.

          2. i agree, no liquid needed. i usually cut my roast up to 2 smaller roasts to increase surface area for the rub

            1. can't do in a crock pot, but might try it this summer (in-laws from the South). If you're doing a slow roast in a crock pot, I've learned that half-way up the meat in liquid works well enough, but I can't say that I'd recommend it.

              15 Replies
              1. re: Caralien

                Not sure I understand your post, Caralien. I do pork shoulder roast regularly in a slow cooker with about a 1/2 cup of liquid. Sometimes I brown it first, sometimes I don't. But it turns out great. I don't make pulled pork but I use the meat (with appropriate seasonings) for fajitas et al. I'm sure I'm missing something cause you're one of my heroes here on CH :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  my husband still is reluctant about the pork shoulder in the crock pot. Once summer hits, I'll try it. But for now, it's oven,as we don't mind leaving that on during the harsh winters here in NJ. Come summer, I'll try it. Cheers!

                  1. re: Caralien

                    I guess I didn't know about that. What doesn't he like about it? I could be the/a chairperson for slow cookers so let me know if I can help :) All the best, c

                    1. re: c oliver

                      His parents are from SC--pig central. I'm still new to slow roasted pig, so come summer when the craving hits, I'll hit you up for help! Thanks!

                      1. re: Caralien

                        We'll be in NYC and the environs from mid-June to mid-July so will be glad to come up and consult :)

                        1. re: Caralien

                          If you want a good recipe for one, this spicy carolina style pulled pork is really good:


                          I make hamburger buns, cole slaw and it's so good. Make sure to reserve some liquids to mix in in the end.

                          1. re: chowser

                            You MAKE your own buns??? If that's not a typo, I am major impressed!

                            1. re: c oliver

                              It's bread, easier than rustic, believe it or not. Thanks to CH, I bake most of my bread products. And it is fun to roll rounds of little dough.

                              1. re: chowser

                                REALLY! I've been gathering hamburger bun recipes forever. I would dearly love to try them. Have you a photo of your finished bun? I'm wanting to make the ones that are a tad puffy on top, a little crunch (I mean a little) and soft interior. Ant they are glossy. I've had these buns at smaller mom and top cafes. The glossy top, that's accomplised by adding something to the top while baking (milk/honey). anyway. Please, I'd like to hear more about your hamurger buns!
                                I've got my bbq sauce down to where it's perfect (in my eyes) and I love my coleslaw, and to have the bun. Wow, I'd be a happy girl! Oh wait, after I get the grinder for my my KA, totally happy!

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  I want to make "gourmet" sliders and finding small buns isn't an option where I live. I could be interested in this also --- even though I'm even more yeast-phobic than I am dough-phobic!

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    It's so forgiving. I would take a poorly made home made bun over something I'd buy in a grocery store. But, if you don't want to make it, have you tried dinner rolls? They seem about the right size.

                                  2. re: chef chicklet

                                    I have different recipes for different techniques. My go-to one is a ww breadmaker one where you make the dough in the breadmaker and then take it out. My go-to by (white flour) hand is from King Arthur. I can use the same one for the stand mixer but also like one I've found from Fresh Loaf. I can go from hand to stand recipes easily but can't seem to convert bread machine to either, or vice versa. I like ones that are a little studier and don't fall apart, eg not like potato rolls. I can post any of them, if you'd like. I don't make glossy top ones but assume it's as you say either milk and some sweetener, cream or egg. I'd love to hear about your barbecue sauce.

                          2. re: c oliver

                            Can I team up with you ?? :) I don't like it for too much, but somethings it just works great for.

                            Signed the co chairperson of crock pots

                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              this sounds like a new thread devoted to pork shoulders...very interested

                        2. re: c oliver

                          I love my too in it. I use the meat as your for other things as well as pulled pork. I have a very large crock and usually do a large pork, so I use a bit more liquid. But same idea.

                          Fajitas are great, quesadillas and I make a casserole with layers or fresh peppers, onions, the pork and diced potatoes with gooey cheese sauce Not very fancy, but great comfort food.

                      2. Now, good folk, supposing -- just as a hypothetical -- that I don't want to make pulled pork (I know, I know, \ heresy), or taco, burrito, enchilada filling, etc. What other delicious things might I make with a big, honking .89 cents a lb. pork shoulder and a large slow-cooker?

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: sablemerle

                          Great way to make a good quick chili or stew
                          quesadillas or even pizzas would be fun
                          I make I mentioned above a potato pork and pepper casserole and pot pies too are fun
                          You could stuffed bell peppers or even like stuffed cabbage would be nice
                          I give some every time I make it to my neighbor, she makes great egg rolls, we had a
                          egg roll party last time I made mine

                          1. re: sablemerle

                            I have a recipe that one of these days I'll switch to the slow cooker. Will Owen told me about this. You take a pork shoulder, cut slashes in it and rub in crushed garlic, fennel seed, crushed whole, dried red peppers, s&p. Then brown on all sides. Deglaze with a little water and put in 450 oven for 30 minutes uncovered. Then the temp gets lowered to 250 lemon juice and chicken broth are added and it cooks in the range of 8 hours, basting occasionally. I will probably at some point instead of lowering to 250 I will transfer it to the slow cooker. I've fixed it three times in as many months and it's the best pork I've ever eaten. I just haven't had any compelling reason to switch it from the oven but I don't see why it wouldn't be just fine. If you make it, please report back.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              That sounds great. I would think the crock would work. May have to try that soon. Thx

                              1. re: c oliver

                                that sounds great -- circling porchetta - or mock porchetta - territory, as seen on Zuni discussions all over this board a few years ago. Although in that case, I think the browning component is key, so the crockpot version would have to meet an oven at some stage.

                                1. re: pitu

                                  Yeah, that's why I'm not in any rush to do that. Once I've got it in the oven, why add more labor. In addition, after the first time, I always do this at last one day ahead. That way I can separte the juice from the meat and refrigerate. There's a huge amount of fat that lifts off which I use for other things. Then the "jus" is just that. Soooo maybe I WON'T even do it in the slow cooker but someone else can :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    That sounds like a good recipe. If you post it, I'd love to try it. The only reason I'd use a slow cooker for the last part is if you're leaving the house and want to come home to dinner ready to go. If you do try it, I'd reduce the liquids by at least 1-2 cups. Also, rather than deglaze w/ water, I'd use wine or beer for added flavor. If I were home the whole time, I'd leave it in the oven. The crockpot isn't really a shortcut but another way to cook and I find it takes more work than using the oven.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Here ya go. I got this from Will Owen who adapted it from the LA Times. It IS perhaps the best thing I've ever cooked. You'll see it has very little liquid to begin with. And wine for deglazing couldn't add detectable flavor in my opinion because this is very strongly flavored :)

                                      "SLOW-ROASTED PORK SHOULDER (adapted from the LA Times)

                                      10 peeled cloves garlic

                                      1/2 cup fennel seeds

                                      2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

                                      1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

                                      5 to 6 crumbled small dried red chiles, incl. seeds

                                      1 pork shoulder butt, bone-in or boneless (about 6 to 7 pounds)

                                      1/2 cup hot water

                                      Juice of 1 lemon

                                      1/2 cup chicken broth

                                      olive oil

                                      1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and fennel seeds and mix them together. Add the salt, pepper and chiles and combine.

                                      2. Cut 1-inch wide slits all over the surface including top and bottom of meat. Rub the garlic-seed mixture into the slits.

                                      3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven. Sear the meat on all sides over medium-low heat for about 10 to 12 minutes. Don't burn the garlic!.

                                      4. Remove the roast from the pot, add the hot water, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pan. Place a rack in the bottom of the pan, add the meat, fat side up, and roast uncovered for 30 minutes.

                                      5. Pour the lemon juice and the chicken broth over the meat. Brush with more olive oil.

                                      6. Reduce the heat to 250 degrees, cover the pan and roast the meat 8 to 10 hours, occasionally basting with pan juices. The roast will be done when the meat falls apart when poked with a fork.

                                      7. Remove the roast from the pot and place it on a serving platter. Skim the fat from the pan drippings and serve these on the side or drizzled over the meat.

                                      Permalink | Report | Reply
                                      Will Owen Dec 24, 2008 10:51AM "

                              2. re: sablemerle

                                Another idea for a slow-cooked pork roast is to make a pork ragu with it - a traditional italian tomato sauce with chunks or shreds of pork in it. Makes a great sauce over chunky noodles or a lasagne. I believe Fine Cooking had a recipe for it with beef.

                              3. Me too, stackm - never used a crock pot, and just made pulled pork in one, fantastic. And potentially the easiest thing on the planet in terms of no work and big payoff. I didn't brown the meat first -- just stuck it in the pot with the other stuff, clamped down the lid, turned it to low and left it alone.

                                Imho, the beer is totally optional, but be sure to put in some cider vinegar and vinegar based hot sauce, onions and garlic.

                                I used the "defatted" fat that resulted to make other stuff, like frying the base for dirty rice.

                                1. I use my crockpot only for pork shoulder (butt) I put a little olive oil on the bottom.
                                  Then I generously salt, pepper and add garlic powder to the bottom. Fat side up.
                                  I've added a little liquid to the pot in the past, but you really won't need it. The liquid that comes out of the meat while cooking is plenty.

                                  1. 2. Cut 1-inch wide slits all over the surface including top and bottom of meat. Rub the garlic-seed mixture into the slits.

                                    How do u do this? the wide part is confusing me and how deep are the slits?. Also, how many is "all over"


                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: BigLouie

                                      I just cut 1" slits sometimes and stuff with seasoning. Not particular pattern, I just makes slits to put the seasoning. But I don't usually do this. It is good as is to me. But I usually only do top if anything. Just me. Everyone has their method.

                                      1. re: BigLouie

                                        That's funny, BL. I guess I never read it the "right" way. What I do is just 1-2" long shallow slices in the meat and rub the seasoning in. I don't stuff it and they're shallow slices. Just like I'd do with a flank steak or something. Does that make sense?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          That is what I do too. I love to stuff flank with minced garlic or roasted garlic. Something fun to do. I also stuff the slits with pesto and then roast. Just as good. I'm sure it has been done hundreds or times, but I enjoy it. Good flavor. After my flank is about half done, I top with a mixture of fresh bread crumbs, parmesan and olive oil and press on the top and finish baking. It is just a fun way to serve the steak a little different. Then I make garlic "Smashed" yes back to the mashed or smashed potato blog. Basically any garlic type of mashed or smashed you like and Roasted eggplant and tomatoes. Good simple Italian style mean but love the steak that way.

                                          Ok ... way off track. However, the same could be applied to a pork loin as well and I have with the same breading crust so I guess it works either way.

                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                            these are all great ideas! I did just do a shoulder in the oven (18 hours), but now that it's getting sunnier, I can't wait to try it in the crock pot! I only first need to buy a new handle for the lid--this 2 year old model's just cracked in half. :(

                                            1. re: Caralien

                                              18 hours?????????? How big was that porker? And what temp? I'm amazed :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                7.5lbs. This one was odd, as it got to 145F in 6 hours, and refused to remain at 140 or 160 for any length of time (it was at 170F for the last 3 hours). As an experiment, we did nothing to it. Unwrapped, rinsed, stuck the thermometer in, and put it into the oven ~midnight when we both woke up (sick dog--she's getting better). I had intended to marinate and put a dry rub, wet crust, but decided to be lazy--for science! Decided not to even trim the fat this time.

                                                Oven temp: 250, 230, 225, 200, 175...it simply wouldn't stay at 160! When we were starving and relaxed, we pulled it out and started a personal pig picking. Needless to say, it was excellent. Also good reheated for lunch, in a pulled pork sandwich for dinner (not recommended: reheating with cuts of asparagus--2 strong flavours which shouldn't be paired for their smell, poot, and astringent reactions).

                                                (My last pork roast was about the same size, but was at 145-160F for the last 12 hours, I believe I cooked it for 22 hours? it's in another post somewhere, but I'm in lazy springtime mode)

                                                So yes, I haven't yet found the time at which a pork shoulder/butt is overcooked. It simply gets more tender and lean. Marinated/rubbed/poked with things or nothing. Next time, however, I will be trimming the fat, as the pan is overly full and pooch is on a bland diet for a few more days (I usually pour some fat on her food as a treat, as cholesterol is good for large fit dogs with joint problems).