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Pork Shoulder / Boston Butt - What's your favourite recipe?

I've been making Carnitas using this recipe for a few years now, which is absolutely delicious, however I'd like to try something different. Any suggestions appreciated.

I do not have a barbecue or smoker, for the record.

The carnitas recipe I've been using (try it, it's great)


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  1. Do I only get to pick one?

    This slow-roast pork shoulder from Fine Cooking is out-of-this-world delicious:


    As is Food & Wine's pork sugo (and this also freezes well without the pasta):


    And finally, Cook's Country did an old-fashioned pork roast on their PBS show a while ago that's spectacular when apple cider is in season (requires free registration):


    2 Replies
    1. re: Krislady

      Those look awesome thank you! I signed up to the cooks country website too, was worth it once I realized it's america's test kitchen, they always do cool things. That pasta looks crazy good :)

      1. re: Krislady

        I have GOT to try those - yum - -

      2. There was a pretty good recipe for southern-style pulled pork BBQ in Cooks Illustrated alas, the link is behind a pay-wall. What was interesting was they smoked it for part of the the time then covered it with foil and finished in the oven. Pulled the whole package out of the oven and put it in double brown paper grocery bags to cool down slowly for an hour or two before pulling it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JimGrinsfelder

          That's pretty close to typical smoking recipe, though the oven finish shortens cooking time. When I bought my smoker, I researched pulled pork. It's very common to smoke for say 10 hours, then foil tightly, stick it in a cooler, and let it sit for a couple of hours.

          Very good resource is www.virtualweberbullet.com.

          1. re: MsMaryMc

            That sounds so good. I love that Sprite is an ingredient! We had a restaurant near us called Fonda Coyoacan that served Mexican "home cooking". They made a Coca-Cola Chicken Fricasee that was great.

            1. re: sbp

              I used to work for a company where the facilities guys were all Filipino. When we had office potlucks they would drag out a big grill they'd welded together back in their shop and make this fantastic barbecue. Their English wasn't much better than my Tagalog, so I never could get the recipe, but I know it had Sprite as a base. Years later, I found this recipe and I'm sure it's the same thing, or pretty close. I haven't tried it on chicken yet because I can't stop making the pork!

            1. A pernil is my go to for pork shoulder, but it's a three day marinade affair in my house. Here's a much simpler one, just the basics but with delicious results:


              3 Replies
              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I love pernil from the Latino delis in Brentwood! I'd have no problem with the long-form. Can you share your 3 day marinade?

                1. re: sbp

                  Yes, be happy to, let me get it to you in the morning.

              2. My favorite method is sous-vide for ~24 hours with salt and sugar and then finished on high heat (especially over a charcoal or wood fire), served with ginger and green onion sauce, but that may not be too practical for you.

                Beyond that, I do rather enjoy puerco pibil - Mexican citrus-braised pork.
                That's a strange video, but the recipe is actually pretty decent, though I'd suggest changing the liquid part of the sauce to 1 cup lime juice + 1/2 cup OJ (or 1.5 cups sour orange juice) and then marinating for 12-24 hours before cooking.

                5 Replies
                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Mind showing me what I need for a practical sous-vide system? I've seen it done before, but never thought of y'know... trying it. What do you use? If it gets the best results, I'll be happy I learned.

                  1. re: SocksManly

                    For short preparations (cooking times <2 hours), you only need a large stock pot, a good digital thermometer and some ziplock freezer bags. Great for things like chicken and fish or even tender cuts of pork and beef.

                    For longer preparations (like the pork shoulder unfortunately), you would need a PID that you then hook up to a crock pot or rice cooker...

                    Or a sous vide supreme (more user friendly interface, but a good deal costlier for essentially the same thing

                    Or an immersion circulator (even more expensive, but more versatile and tighter temperature control

                    I have a PID (along with a big slow cooker). Works great. No regrets at all in buying it. I've found that there are relatively few things you really need a vacuum sealer for, and pork is not one of them. Ziploc freezer bags dunked under water to push air out work quite well for most applications.

                    For pork shoulder, I season with salt and sugar (about 50/50), cook in a 146 F water bath for about 24 hours, ice down and refrigerate the pork, and then finish right at meal time over a hot charcoal or wood fire - just browning the outside and adding smoky flavor, not bringing the internal temp above 140. Texturally, the meat is a bit like filet mignon steak but more dense. And it has a MUCH more intense flavor than any other pork I've ever had.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      Great info thank you. I like that it (pid) just regulates the cooking device rather than being the device itself. So much more practical and portable, fixable, etc.

                      After I get this, do you have any other links for recipes and whatnot? What do you find yourself making the most with it?

                      I can almost feel my wife shuddering in the distance.

                      1. re: SocksManly

                        Best link I could give you is the following:
                        An everything-you-need-to-know to get started guide. It will give you a great idea of times and temperatures for various foods. Though I've recently switched my technique for quick-cooking proteins away from his focus on pasteurization, that is still the reference I turn to most.

                        I also like this primer on sous vide cooking, from the French Culinary institute's experimental cooking blog. There's a lot of other good stuff on this site too.

                        A merged thread on e-gullet about sous vide grew very long, and had a lot of good information in it, though there's a LOT to read through.

                        I also like Thomas Keller's book "Under Pressure." But it's less useful (and more costly) than the first link I posted. Good for cribbing recipe ideas though.

                        My favorite things to cook sous-vide are 'braising' meats (pork shoulder, beef short ribs, etc) and chicken pieces (chicken in particular seems like it was just waiting for sous vide to come along). Duck is fantastic. Seafood comes next. I like doing steaks sous-vide sometimes, but find that there are other methods I sometimes prefer. Fruits and vegetables (though not green veg) can be very good, but I seldom bother.

                        There are too many good sous vide recipes to even begin to list. Some of my favorite techniques however include poaching various proteins in olive oil or other flavored oils, which is far more economical with sous vide. I like cooking sous vide short ribs in a kalbi marinade. I like cooking chicken pieces sous vide with a thin slice of lemon, drying and chilling it out of the bag in the fridge, and then pan/deep frying without batter (the skin crisps). I love the pork I described above.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          This is an interview with Mario Batali in 2007; so simple, yet excellent. The secret is fennel seeds, garlic and the low and slow temp. Do not follow the step by step recipe; rather use the paragraph above, where it needs 8 hours, I do not know why the writer confused the two recipes. Do not get creative........ NO "slow cooker!!! It needs the dry low heat of the oven. DELICIOUS!!!!!


                2. My favorite is one which leans a bit Thai. I cut it into large chunks, then marinade with a mix of a few TBSP each of Thai Chili paste (the more garlic/tamarind leaning kind over the tongue-searing kind) and Tom Yum (sour shrimp) paste, some grated ginger, a few limes-worth of juice, minced garlic, scallions, and cilantro (maybe some minced chili peppers if we're feeling sassy) while it's losing the chill of the fridge. I seal the whole show in foil (fatty bits upward) and cook low and slow, about 275 for about 5 hours or so. When I want a bit of caramelization on the edges, I just open the foil in the last 15-20 and raise the heat a bit.

                  1. One of the best sandwiches I've ever had is Philadelphia's DiNic's Roast Pork with broccoli rabe and very sharp very aged provolone. I don't think the original is pork butt/shoulder, but it would work great.

                    Here's a freeview of Rosengarten's adaptation. Just ignore the green pepper bit and make some garlicky sauteed broccoli rabe. (I know, the link looks ridiculous, but I tested and it works):


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sbp

                      I love that sandwich!

                      Anyway, here's my adobo recipe, for a 6 -7 lb pork shoulder (picnic, skin on, if you can find that), bone-in. This is a more Cuban style of seasoning than Puerto Rican, but the end result is what matters. For a Puerto Rican style adobo, omit the juice and add a 4-5 tablespoons of white vinegar instead:

                      -Paraphrased recipe-Adobo mojo (wet seasoning), Cuban style:

                      20 cloves garlic, peeled, yes, 20
                      1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt or more to taste
                      1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
                      2 tsp dried oregano
                      2 tablespoons or more of good olive oil, preferably Spanish
                      11/2 cup sour orange juice, or 1 cup orange and 1/4 each cup lime and lemon juice

                      Pound the garlic cloves and salt to a paste using a mortar and pestle, or use a food processor. Add the peppercorns and oregano, pounding well after each to incorporate them into the paste. Stir in the olive oil and and the juice. A poster suggested buzzing the oregano in a coffee/spice grinder, "better oregano flavor," he said. I'm going to try that next time. I use Mexican oregano, but that's optional.

                      Now, follow the directions in my link upthread for partially removing the skin and fat cap, as I find this a a better technique for really getting the seasoing into the meat, rather than just rubbing the adobo over the skin. Pour the adobo over the pork, massaging it into the meat, then rewrap with the fat cap, cover and refrigerate for three days. Alternately, you can pierce the meat as for garlic sliver studding, and really get the adobo into the slits. No need to turn in the marinade or flip the meat or anything like that.

                      Allow pork to come to room temp, at least an hour, and roast fat side up, @ 300° or lower, whatever's your style, until internal temp is160°. Depending on the roast weight and oven temp, it may take 4-5+ hours, but rely on the thermometer. I usually add an inch or so of water to the bottom of the roasting pan, a trick a Dominican room mate showed me, and baste the roast occasionally with the collecting juices. You can roast it on a cooling rack fitted into the roasting pan, if desired. Turn the heat up to 400° either at the start of or last hour of roasting, to really crisp up the skin, if you have. I don't eat the skin, as it's scary crackly crispy, but it's considered a delicacy in some circles. When the pork is done, the bone should wiggle freely, in lieu of using a thermometer. The fat should be very crispy and the meat around the bone should shred. If you don't have a skin-on picnic, keep the fat cap on, rub with adobo, allow to marinate and roast it. You may want to season the shoulder with more salt and pepper, depending on your taste.

                      Let it rest, lightly tented, for at least a 1/2 hour before digging in. Leftovers are great for Cuban sandwiches or even pulled pork.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        Thanks. Sound great and not difficult - just non-active time consuming!

                        Re the skin, it really is great. When I smoke, I remove the skin completely, but give it a brush of oil and cook it next to the shoulder. Because of very low temp and dryness of the smoke, it doesn't get crackling, but sort of hard and leathery. And it's still delicious.

                        1. re: sbp

                          Not difficult at all, and well worth the wait.

                          Skin, delicious yes, just a bit too crunchy for my delicate teeth.;-)

                    2. From the Naked Whiz website. Cooked on a BGE, but can also be done in the oven. It is beyond good.


                      1. Here's an old thread I started. As you can see, I ADORE the Will Owen/LA Times one but there are plenty others here.


                        1. A new discovery for me is Korean spicy pork (dwaejigogi-bokkeum??). Pork shoulder or belly (very thinly sliced) is marinated in a wonderfully spicy marinade of gochugaru, gochujang, garlic, green onions, garlic, soy, sugar, sesame oil, black pepper, etc. We made of variation of this with pork ribs today and will try it with chicken soon. The flavor is bold and spicy, but not one dimensional (other layers of flavor including sweetness).

                          1. A couple ideas not mentioned yet are vindaloo and soup. Pork is the traditional meat in traditional vindaloo and the shoulder holds up particularly well over the long cooking time. For the not squeamish, chopped shoulder has a terrific texture for Asian soups. Not only do you get meat, but richness from the fat and the chewiness of the skin.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JungMann

                              Can I assume you're talking about putting the raw pork into the soup? Could you elaborate please?