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Sep 28, 2009 05:09 AM

Pork shoulder taking forever in oven

Had a craving for pulled pork yesterday but the smallest shoulder I could buy was 8.25lbs. Undeterred I put it in a 225* oven at 11am on Sunday. Before I went to bed it was not even close (as expected) so I dropped the temp to 215. Checked just recently (now 21 hours in) and my pork is still at 165*. I have bumped the oven to 250 so I hope it will get up in temp soon. However, I'm worried if it sat at low temps too long. Will this still be safe to eat or do I risk some bacterial growth?

On a positive note, my apartment smells of porky goodness!


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  1. If it's 165 internal, that's enough to kill listeria. However, I'd wait for one of our resident boffinsbefore proceeding. I've certainly heard of 12+ hour roasts before. If you did this right, you'll have the most succulent, tender pork.

    I think heston blumenthal did something similar with beef, but he blowtorched it first.

    *edit* Damn, I should do that with steak/porkchop fat.

    1. good things come to those who wait, roast pork will always take longer than we expect and i too have this problem when meat i'm roasting is taking too long. time is the only thing separating you from that bit of deliciousness in the oven so the only solution is a deck of cards or a good book and a cup of tea (coffee will kill your appetite) and a comfy kitchen chair. relax and don't rush that piece of meat.

      please note that if you raise the temp to get ahead, try to shield the surface of the roast with some foil.

      3 Replies
      1. re: epabella

        I've actually had a piece of foil loosely tenting the top of the roast the entire time. Maybe I should leave the temp at 225? As long as it's done in time for dinner (9 hours from now) I'll be a happy man.

        1. re: taylor04

          I do a version where I brown it first, then 450 for 30 min. uncovered, then 250 (covered) til internal temp is 190. It's cooked in a Dutch oven. Maybe Alan Barnes will weigh in. The fact that it's just been tented with foil makes me wonder if it's going to be dried out.

          1. re: c oliver

            i always do those sorts of meats in a dutch oven also. the moist heat just makes whatever beast meltingly tender.

      2. That's an awfully long time (21 hours and counting?) for 8 lb shoulder. Every roast is different, and I've had ones that I smoke at 220-250 go for anywhere between 10 and 15 hours.

        Two thoughts:

        1. Is your oven calibrated correctly? If you're cooking at 160 and not 225, that would make a big difference.
        2. It's possible you have a shoulder that's really heavy on the connective tissue. So all the extra time would be the melting of the collagen -- hence the stalled internal temp.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sbp

          "That's an awfully long time (21 hours and counting?) for 8 lb shoulder... your oven calibrated correctly?"

          yeah, this occured to me too. if i go by the ratio on an hour per pound, or even 90mins per pound, that roast is taking a bit too long. is taylor's oven really going at 225F? or could some heat be venting away? an oven thermometer is the only way to tell but even i still have to get one for myself.

        2. An 8 lb. Shoulder(?) I'm assuming butt, slow roasted at 225* should take between 12-14 (more or less) hours to reach the 190*-195* range....

          Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. Also check the thermometer you are using to check the temperature of the butt......

          Take the foil off!!! Maintain the 250* oven setting...Assuming it is correct.....


          1. AS others have expressed, I believe your problems lie with the oven and or thermometers. Regardless, I do not believe you have any safety issues. If indeed your oven is off and needs to be calibrated....or the oven or meat thermometers are off and you do not have access for repacements......continue your slow roast and when you see the meat begin to separate from the bone, it will be finished...You can also check by pulling at the meat with your fingers. When it comes off easily, and in combination with the meat from bone will be good to go for serving.

            13 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              Excellent practical advice. I still wonder if it's going to be dried out since it's been cooked uncovered. Time will tell.

              1. re: c oliver

                Sometimes when I barbecue a pork butt or shoulder and for whatever reason it looks like it's not going to cross thr finish line in time, I will tightly wrap it in foil. You sacrifice the crispy bark on the outside, but the meat is tender and juicy.

                1. re: c oliver


                  I cook my roasts....beef, pork and poultry all the time @ 225 without using any meat thermometer until I believe I am near end or completed roasting(if at all).....but I do have an oven thermometer. I use general time guidelines and check with my fingers by poking or pulling depending on type of roast. This even includes an expensive Prime Rib Roast......and I cook my roast uncovered or tented always. At the 215-225* setting it is near impossible to ruin a roast unless you take it out too soon before finished....there's definitely room for error when it comes to timing and overcooking. I've had pork shoulders and fresh hams take over 16 hours from past experiences.....but never anything near 20 - 21 hours @ 225*.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    I agree, this seems to be taking forever! I just checked it, starting to move over 175. Still looks juicy and the bone is starting to wiggle.

                    No oven thermo for me (should really get one though) but my meat thermometer is accurate. Good thing I don't pay for the gas in my condo! haha

                      1. re: Soop

                        you could almost slice at 175, but in my experience that leads to tough dry meat. i usually cook until 185 to slice, and 205 to pull. the collagen doesn't break down enough at 175 in my experience.

                        1. re: Soop

                          No. Really need to get into the 180's for collagen to start melting. Taylor - try taking the meat thermometer out of the roast and let it hang in the oven for a while. You should be able to get a read on oven temp that way

                          1. re: sbp

                            "Really need to get into the 180's for collagen to start melting"

                            This depends on whether or not the roast has hit the plateau. This usually happens between 170-180 at which point the internal temperature will drop for several hours. The longer the better. One would hope after 21 hours that has happened. I do 8# shoulders all the time on the BGE at 225 and I average 21 hours. As I have said many times a Polder thermometer can be VERY useful in the home as well so you know when the conversion process starts. Collagen converts to gelatin in that process. In either event if the roast has climbed back up to 180 you should certainly be good to go but I usually pull at 190.

                            1. re: Fritter

                              I couldn't remember who had written about this recently. Thanks for reiterating. I was very interested in it and now want a new thermometer :)

                              1. re: Fritter

                                It's interesting that on a BGE you are averaging 21 hours when pulling at 190. I use a WSM, with a Maverick and Nu Temp remote thermos (one for meat, one for chamber) -- and at 225, 8 lb shoulder and also pulling at 190-195, I've yet to break 15 hours. I suspect if I left it another few hours, i would hit 200-210 and start drying out the meat. Wonder what accounts for the variation? (I know the BGE is ceramic, and retains heat well, but 225 is 225 -- I'd be interested to know the mechanism that accounts for the difference).

                                1. re: sbp

                                  the temp of the meat when starting
                                  how many times the lid is opened
                                  brined vs not

                                  i've had butts take 12 hours. i've had the same size take 18 hours. it's just the way it goes.

                                  1. re: sbp

                                    I can't say I've ever noticed ant difference in cook time with brining. Opening the lid at least on a BGE has minimal impact. I probably open four times on average in a 21-22 hour cook. Meat temp does impact cook time for me but if I pulled straight from the fridge it would only add about 30 minutes.
                                    The difference between the WSM and the BGE is that each has a very different shape and construction. If you use the built in thermometer then you are getting a dome temperature and not a grate temperature. The BGE unlike the WSM has a ceramic plate that goes between the charcoal and the grate called a plate setter. This allows for indirect cooking which is not easy to do on a WSM. So in fact 225 in not 225 on every grill. The grate temp on the BGE with a plate setter is much lower than that of a WSM or the dome temperature.
                                    Hope that helps! :)