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Dec 28, 2009 10:59 AM

pulled pork emergency

Help! I'm cooking a pork shoulder, for pulled pork, according to advice found on these boards and it seems to be burning and/or drying up, rather than cooking the way it should. Can anyone tell me how to save it? I put the shoulder in a roasting pan, covered it with foil, and put it in a 275 degree oven, on the lowest rack. It's been in for about three hours and thirty minutes. About half an hour ago, when it seemed to be burning, I moved it up a rack and turned the oven down. Should I be adding liquid? Please help! (The shoulder was expensive and I'll be pretty upset if I destroy it!)

Many, many thanks,

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  1. I'd add liquid, I'd even go as far as to suggest a braise, but the pulled pork purists will disagree. I'd also put it on a rack in the pan. Make sure its wrapped tight.

    1 Reply
    1. re: porker

      I'm thinking that this might be the way to go. What would you add? Just water? I have a vinegar-based bbq sauce that I prepared, planning to put it on the pork after it cooled, but I could pour it on now, I suppose.

    2. Set the oven @ 225* ...Place it in the middle of the oven...take the foil off.


      4 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Bob

        Huh? I always do mine in a marinade, and it comes out fantastic. I cook mine in the slow cooker though. Seems to me you would definitely need some kind of liquid.

        1. re: millygirl

          I never add liquid when cooking pork shoulder. There is enough conective tissue and fat to stand up to hours and hours of cooking without braising.

          1. re: millygirl

            No liquid is needed or necessary when slowly oven roasting a pork shoulder/butt/picnic etc.
            Slowly oven roasting for hours at low temperatures will produce meat that is pullable, tender and flavorful without being waterlogged/tasteless ~~~~
            Slowly cooked for hours in the dry heat of wood coals, it creates that soft, savory, satisfying, sweet succulence known as Southern pit BBQ.....


          2. re: Uncle Bob

            Agh, see my reply below. It seems, bizarrely, that my new oven doesn't go down to 225. How can this be possible?!

          3. Based on your details given, I doubt your roast is burning in any way, especially when covered with foil. Was there actual burning or blackening of the meat? ....or just an audible sound of meat sizzling and or splattering of oil? Also, what was the raw weight of the shoulder roast? Was it a half or full cut?

            Even with a half cut, I would imagine it would take a minimum 4 hours @275* and for a full cut (7-8lbs.), I would think it would take a minimum 8 hours to reach 190*.

            Given your details thus far, I would leave the roast in the oven at the lower temperature of 225* until the internal temperature hits 190*

            6 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              Okay, forgive me, as I don't know that much about pork shoulder, but I think it's a half cut -- the Boston butt (we also have the picnic, separately; this was part of our meat share for our CSA). And I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know the weight. The farmer, though, told me to cook it for 10 hours.

              The meat itself doesn't seem to be blackening (just checked), it was the fat at the bottom of the pan that was blackening.

              Now here's the tricky thing: I mentioned, before, that I turned the heat down in our oven. When I checked it just now, it turned out the oven was actually off. It appears that the lowest setting on our oven, a Bertazzoni, is 275. The oven is brand new and I can't quite believe this is true, but so it seems.

              Agh, not sure what to do!

              Many, many thanks,

              1. re: BrickLane

                First thing I would do is check your warranty for the just may need to be calibrated properly for future use. The dealer you purchased this from should be able to help you. Most gas ranges/oven should able to handle a warm setting of at least 160-170*.

                If you do not have the capacity to roast between 200-225* you are depriving yourself of some potentially great roasting of beef, pork and turkey.

                You probably have a half roast if the farmer told you it was a Boston Butt. but it definitely can be roasted much quicker than 10 hours.....just the other day, I roasted the same in four hours at 250*.....and it came out perfectly......even though I am a proponent of cooking @ 225*, 250* seems to achieve similar results. Continue roasting @ your lowest setting possible, or in this case, 275*. Truth be told, even if you roasted at 325* it would be delicious....just not melt in your mout tender....


                If you can hold the roast in both your hands with your fingertips close together, it's probably in the 3-4 pound range. If holding the roast in both hands has separation of more than 3-4 inches between your fingertips, then you have a whole roast that is in the 6-7 pound range, minimum size.


                1. re: BrickLane

                  Proceed with the dry roasting at 275* ~~ I know people who cook (BBQ) pork butts in this temperature range with excellent results....

                  Be patient, Have Fun & Enjoy!!!

                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    Okay, thank you! Do you think I'm still okay without liquid?

                    1. re: BrickLane

                      Sorry, just saw you wrote "dry." Very tired, here.

                      1. re: BrickLane

                        Yes! If you have it in a roasting pan and any liquids/fats render just leave them be...You could, but not necessary, use the pan drippings to baste with every 30 minutes or so......You're making me hungry!!!


                2. 275 is a bit high; 225 is more like it. At 225, it will take 6-8 hours to cook, so don't plan on going anywhere. Just lower the heat to 225, and use the internal temp to tell when it's done. No liquid is needed, nor is a foil covering needed. If you rubbed it with seasonings containing a fair amount of sugar, the exterior will indeed darken & char a bit...that's just "bark", nothing to worry about. If you don't like the crunchy exterior, baste once or twice an hour with some apple juice or cider vinegar. Drippings in the pan may blacken and/or smoke, but that's to be expected on a long cook.

                  I'm attempting to attach a photo of a nearly-done pork shoulder on the grill so you can see how "cooked" the outside looks.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    Hi there. I mentioned this earlier but: It seems that my new oven won't go down below 275 degrees, crazy as that sounds. Am I doomed to a destroyed roast? Agh!

                    1. re: BrickLane

                      Happy Holidays BrickLane,
                      Maybe a bit late, so i hope you report back.
                      Anyways, as with many applications, I feel there isn't a true right way or wrong way.

                      Sure, people will swear how they get the BEST results doing X Y Z. Others will argue differently.

                      Pork is forgiving to an extent. Maybe you screwed up, maybe you didn't...thats not the point. I'm thinking you read all the advice above and did what you thought best.
                      Next time, you'll go from there.
                      Each time you'll get closer to what you want.

                      This is the joy of BBQ and cooking - you can't get it right the first time, but maybe you'll have fun trying.

                      Pulled Pork.
                      I've done it many ways, some better than others, but it took awhile to find my favorite.
                      (actually I like to braise a whole leg in an aromatic broth until overdone, pull the pork, mix with my BBQ sauce, and voila - of course this is against the purist's version, but its a purely personal choice and voyage of discovery)

                      OK, I've been dipping in the sauce...