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Dec 9, 2010 11:41 AM

need input on 8lb pork shoulder cooking method and spices

this will be xmas eve dinner (and i've never done one before but have been reading).
it turns out that 2 of our guests - one 83 and one 90!- really can't eat spicey food so i have to shift away from the mixing in of a chili to, perhaps, more of a mediterranian approach.
i am trying to decide between the dry rub overninght and then the low and slow roasting approach (i think about 7 hours?) or the braise.
Please chime in here so that I can decide and finalize my shopping list.
oh...and, lastly, should i roast or braise it the same day that we are eating dinner? or approach it like stew...cook it off and then cool it down and let it sit overnight until it is reheated?

thanks for any opinions.

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  1. oh...and i can't use fennel - one guest is not allowed to eat fennel.

    21 Replies
    1. re: redgirl

      I usually slow roast my pork shoulder @ 225* for 10-11 hours. I find it much more tender than roasting at 250*, so it's worth taking the extra time for me. You could do a simple rub with onion, garlic and paprika.....but I like just simple Kosher Salt and Black Pepper.

      Lidia Bastianich has a nice braise recipe with onions.

      1. re: fourunder

        ok...i'm liking the idea of the rub...1 day in advance? or does it really need a few days? i read that you can put little slits all over and i like your onion, garlic, paprika, salt...would rosemary/thyme be odd or out of place? yes, and peppercorns crushed. then i'll do low and slow - 225 degrees til it hits 190.
        a few more questions:
        1. on a rack? i have a v-rack that i use for turkey and chicken. on that? no moisture in the bottom of the pan if i'm not braising? or do i keep a little moisture in the bottom of the pan even tho it sits on a rack?
        2. dry roasted means untented, yes?

        bushwickgirl...i will probably go mostly your way. ... at what temp internally should i hike up the temp? i know i should pull it at 185/190.

        1. re: redgirl

          I don't do it on a rack and ssssh, don't tell, totally odd, but I add a cup of water to the bottom of the roasting pan. It was a ex-Dominican roommate's secret trick for pernil. He used two cups of water, but I don't like the idea of my pork shoulder wallowing in water while it's roasting. I settled for 1 cup and add more if needed. Works. If you do a rack, definitely add some liquid to the bottom of the pan.

          Dry roasting yes, means untented or uncovered. I hike up the temp to 425° at 150° and let 'er rip until the skin is crispy. By the time that happens and you factor in carry over cooking whole resting, you'll be at 180° or more, fine for very well done pork, but since you roasted it slowly, it'll be tender and juicy. The skin will start to crisp while it's roasting the low temp anyway.

          If you need, I'll provide exact measures for my rub, but you can really wing it and still have it be great. Thyme or rosemary, or both, very nice, fresh herbs only and not too much rosemary. Oh, yes, and slit the meat and massage the rub into it. I think fourunder would agree .

          1. re: redgirl

            Bushwickgirl has given you some great advice.......

            When I roast low and slow, I never add liquids to the pan. At the low temperature of 225*, you really do not get a lot of pan juices or fond...but with a pork shoulder, you will render a good amount of fat. I like to collect the oil and use in the same ways I would for bacon grease.....e.g., frying some eggs. Adding water would make collecting the oil impossible. Cooking at higher heats only would collect drippings and make a nice au jus. In low temperature roasting, the moisture stays in the meat an you have very little shrinkage and higher yields.

            With regards to the rack, I do not use it for a pork shoulder either. At the low temperature, you do not need to worry about burning the bottom of the roast in contact with the roasting pan. You could definitely use one though, and using the v-rack you mentioned would definitely aide in more even cooking with air circulation.

            Tenting or covering the roast may steam away the spice rub. You definitely could slit the meat and inject liquid seasonings, dry rubs, aromatics or herbs......personally, I don't care for inserting garlic into the slits as they tend not to cook evenly and and stay a little raw. The garlic in the rub is adequate and 1-2 days in advance is suffice ...but 3 days can't hurt.

            Total roasting time will take you to at least 10 hours, maybe even up to 12. I never use a thermometer. I just tug at the meat and when it comes off in my fingers it's near ready. The final check or test is to see if the bone has separated from the meat....if so, the collagen has melted. With slow roasting, you need patience, but you can rest assured you will not overcook your meat. It's virtually impossible.

            1. re: fourunder

              "the bone has separated from the meat"

              My tried and true method for knowing when a pork shoulder is done, shake the bone. I think the only reason my ex Dominican roommate used water was so he didn't have to scrub the roasting pan too hard, lazy guy that he very low heat, as you said, any added liquid is not necessary. I do it out of habit. I should stop.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

       loving this discussion and am taking notes. if i sit the shoulder in the bottom of the pan then it sits in a lot of cast off grease....and wouldn't it become a kind of confit braise at that point? anyway, think i'll put it on the rack.
                here' are two more questions, if you'll indulge me.
                1. convection? at 200? or will it race it too quickly along?
                2. how many people will an 8lb shoulder feed? i'm serving it with a potato gratin and a huge kale salad with celery root and shaved parm.

                1. re: redgirl

                  No, a pork shoulder doesn't produce much fat, contrary to how you would think. Using a rack will be fine, imo, I just don't bother and never have found it necessary.

                  I would not use the convection feature to roast it; if you must, turn the oven temp down by 25°

                  As far as yield, about 6-8 oz per person is my serving average, and that depends on what else is brought to the table. The shoulder is bone in and there is some shrinkage, you can expect about 60% yield from your original weight. Your yield is roughly a bit less than 5 lbs, and factor in a small amount of loss from skin and bone waste. You'll be able to adequately feed 8-10 people. I had a 7 lb recently which fed 7 with plenty of leftovers.

                  1. re: redgirl

                    Hello, I too am feeding 12 with a 7 pound pork shoulder. How do I get the hightest yield? I'm always feeding 12 or more and would like advice usually. I'll post the rest of my menu later as it doesn't lend to this thread.
                    Thank You ALL!

                    1. re: mrbuffer545

                      I think you're fine on the amount of meat for the number of people.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        CO, Thank You, I don't they are particular but I am. I always cook for 12 or more and have a set menu and may need advice as I am new to this ...PLEASE?

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Is that the slow cook (which I can't always wait on} or the fast cook 325 @ 1 hour per pound?

                          1. re: mrbuffer545

                            Sorry, not sure what you're asking. IS WHAT the slow cook?

                            BTW, cooking at a certain temp for a certain amount of time per pound is only EVER a guide, ya know? It really doesn't take the place of a meat thermometer. I proved that to myself recently. I had a small pork roast but it was quite 'dense' and not as much connective tissue as some. It took quite a bit longer than I anticipated. I wouldn't have known that without the thermometer.

                        2. re: mrbuffer545

                          How do I get the hightest yield?

                          The only way to get results for the highest yield. (pork, beef or poultry) to slow roast at low temperatures. Alto Shaam is a company that makes equipment for this method of cooking for the commercial food industry, and they recommend so at 250*, but I, and many others believe 225* is a better thermostat setting. Years ago, Alto Shaam also recommended the lower 225, but have since raised it to 250. I can only surmise this was done for either time or litigation purposes. You should acquaint yourself with basics of slow roasting. It naturally breaks down the meat to make it tender.

                          Roast your pork for 11-12 hours to an internal temperature of 190*


                          1. re: fourunder

                            And not just the highest yield but the moister meat. And sometimes I think people don't realize that low and slow can still be cooked too long. I use the technique alot, but on the stovetop, in the oven and the slow cooker. Alot of the things I do would be dried out if done all day.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Alot of the things I do would be dried out if done all day.

                              I would agree this could be true for beef or poultry, especially in smaller portioned cuts.....but pork is very forgiving, especially @ 225 or below....and large mass beef and turkeys benefit from 200 and below.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                Now that I think about it, I agree with YOU :) It's those pot roasts that seems to get cooked to death. Pork IS more forgiving.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Thank Yall all as my pork was GREAT (You know when they didn't complain) hehe! You folks are all GREAT! I cooked a 7 lb. at 325 for 6 hours and it turned out! Sazon, abobo, seasoning salt, and pepper. I cooked racked.

                                  1. re: mrbuffer545

                                    Don't you just love CHs??? Who else understands how you're feeling but us? I bet it WAS great. Congrats.

                2. re: fourunder

                  HI, when you talk about temperature do you mean Fahrenheit or Celsius

                3. re: redgirl

                  I just have to ask why someone is "not allowed to eat fennel." That's a new one on me :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    fennel is an 'estrogenic' is soy, cinnamon, licorice (black). mimics estrogen and for women who have had an estrogen-based breast cancer, these are foods to avoid. i know...who knew? i'm in that group but will make a fennel exception for this one meal. my friend, however won't. so the pork will have no fennel and i'm making two potato with a carmelized fennel/onion theme and one without -

                4. My favorite is the red-cooked pork recipe right here on Chow. But the low and slow braising method works well, though my last venture was a sous vide shoulder that turned out fantastic!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: stomsf

                    I bet. Pork shoulder has a high affinity for sous vide.

                    I do a low and slow method Pernil, rubbed at least three days in advance with a mix of smashed garlic cloves, coarsely ground black peppercorns, kosher salt and white vinegar, under the skin, not just on it. Smoked or regular paprika would be a nice additon to the rub addind color and some smoked flavor. This year for Thanksgiving I roasted a bone in 7 lb at 225° for about 10 hours, I actually didn't time it, just checked periodically for doneness, then turned up the heat to 425° for the last hour to really crisp up the cuero (skin). You can cook this in the morning, starting early am, and tent it or reheat gently, but the best way is to just have it ready to eat when dinner is served. It can rest for at least an hour before service and still be warm. Your house will smell great while it's roasting. The very crispy skin is for the brave of heart and the strong of dental work.

                    This isn't really specifically a Mediterranean dish, but as it's a Puerto Rican style of cooking pork shoulder for the holidays, it's ultimately by way of Spain.

                      1. how many people will an 8lb pork shoulder feed - it's the main course. wondering if i need 2 of them for 10 people.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: redgirl

                          You do not need 2. Even after shrinkage you will have almost a half pound of meat per person.

                          1. re: chefj

                            I would roast two just in case. In my neck of the woods, pork shoulder is 1.29-1.59 currently in just about any supermarket. If I go to the restaurant supply it's only .89. Considering they average about 12-13 bucks in a supermarket, it's a pretty cheap meal, cost wise.....but also one of my favorites. It makes great leftovers and Cubano sandwiches.....Another plus, the bones for a nice bean soup to boot.

                          2. re: redgirl

                            See my response upthread.

                            It really depends on what else you're serving, but I think one would be fine for 10 people. fourunder does have an excellent point, however; pork is cheap and leftovers make a number of good meals. Sometimes it's easier to roast two at once, if your oven is big enough, most are, and the pork is so good your guests make want to pig out, no pun intended. It's always better to have too much food than not enough, imo. Only you know your guests and what else you're serving, play it by ear from there.