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Dec 29, 2010 02:59 PM

Giant overnight pork roast! Temperature questions.

Hello Chowhounders,

I am preparing to cook an impressive looking 20lb. pork roast overnight. It is a bone in, skin on, back leg (ham).

Any temperature recommendations? I am thinking of putting it in on a high heat for 30 minutes and then turning it down to either 250f or 200f for about 8 or 9 hours.

Any suggestions?

I am going for fork tender meat as opposed to something slice-able.


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  1. I would roast @ 215-225* and expect at least 12-14 hours for such a large roast depending on temperature selected, possibly longer. I regularly roast a 8-10 pound picnic shoulder and it usually takes a minimum 11 hours roasting time for me to pull and separate the bone.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      My local supermarket was offering "Steamship of Pork" before Christmas, I assume that's what the OP has, with the addition of a catchy name?

      1. re: bushwickgirl

        In my area, it's simply a *Fresh Ham*......Steamship is usually associated with Beef......creative marketing has its place, but sometimes adding a catch name is silly and doesn't make it taste any better.......but I do happen to love fresh ham roast......and the cubano sandwiches the next day from it.

        1. re: fourunder

          Yes, it's just creative marketing, and I haven't ever seen that name applied to a leg of pork before this market did; it's always been fresh ham for me as well. I always think of beef when I hear Steamship and think of how many times I roasted and carved, endlessly carved, those suckers.

          A unknowing very young wait person once asked me from across the line, after seeing the 90+ lb steamship in the oven, if it was a leg of lamb...still makes me chuckle. I patiently expained to her that it was not.

          I do agree that a fresh ham is a great roast.

    2. No need for the High heat start. I regularly cook 6-8 # pork butts for 12-16 hours( extra long cause I leave it in at work over night) with no problems at 250F.
      I would think that you would want give a 20# bone in at least 16 hours.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chefj

        Yep. This seems like the proper amount of time and agreed on not needing to give it a blast up front. it will be plenty crunchy after all that time. If not you can zap it at the end - but you won't have to.

        Maggie mentioned adding a little steamer underneath. If your piggie was lean, it might be worth considering. If the fat under the skin is thick and it is well marbled throughout - you are prob in fine shape as is. Just keep it low and do not open the oven.

      2. You probably are but I thought it's worth a mention, place a pan with water in the oven as well, keep it filled as you cook the roast... add some spices/veggies to the water, not sure what flavor you are going for, but I'd add some onion, chiles, cumin, bay leaves, get the idea. You then shouldn't have to worry about the roast being too dry. 200-225 is about perfect for that length of time... Hell, I'd coat the whole roast in olive oil and massage in ancho powder, but that's just me.

        1. Chefj are you braising or just dry roasting yours for 12-16 hours?

          It seems like I should have no problem at 250 overnight. From what everyones saying it looks like a minimum of 12 hours for this giant roast.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gastrognome

            dry roasting with a loose cover when I am doing the small ones, but probably not needed for the big bone in.

          2. I just finished destroying a lovely 23 lb fresh, skin on ham that I did as a porchetta by stupidly listening to advice about cooking for 10 hours and getting it to an internal temp of 190 -- 200 "to let the connective tissue dissolve." Guess what -- a ham has relatively little connective tissue, unlike shoulders, which I've barbecued for decades, and the meat is relatively unmarbled, at least in non-heirloom hogs. An initial sear at 400 for 20 minutes on each side (remember, this had the skin on and crackly skin was a primary objective) and 300 degrees until 190 in the center (about 6 total hours) was at least an hour too long, particularly since i had to reheat it to get the skin re-crunchified.

            Treat it like a loin and take it out at 160 - 165.

            9 Replies
            1. re: rjbh20

              Tough to hear.....most recipes i see for fresh hams say to roast until you hit an internal temperature of 160*....I believe part of your problem had to do with the 300 degree temperature setting. The higher heat setting roasts the meat tougher than lower temperatures like 200-250 due to more moisture loss. Alto Shamm is a company that manufactures cook and hold ovens for large volume operations......Fresh ham is one roast they recommend for overnight roasting at 250* till done.

              1. re: fourunder

                LOW AND SLOW overnight for tender pull apart meat as Fourunder mentioned high heat roasting produces a tough result.

                1. re: ospreycove

                  I think I got lucky on this one.

                  First of all, as I often do with skin on pork I scored the skin shallowly but all over, not just a diamond pattern but just keep scoring it repeatedly all over for a while and also poke holes, then I poured boiling water over the skin a couple days before roasting.

                  After this skin treatment I rubbed salt all over the big guy and left uncovered in the fridge to dry out.

                  On the night of roasting , I stuffed rosemary into the meat all over and blasted it on 500 degrees for 30 minutes then turned it down to 225 degrees.

                  I intended to leave it in til around 10 or so then next day. Luckily I woke at 7 the next day and was compelled to research roasting fresh hams further.

                  My research led me to believe that these roasts do not act like shoulders do with all of there intramuscular fat and connective tissue. Rather I have come to believe it needs to be cooked like a loin, to around 150 and then let rest and sliced, rather than pulled apart.

                  So i took the roast out at around 7:30am and it was at exactly 150 degrees.

                  I let it rest all day and then blasted it at 500 again to finish the crackling.

                  The crackling and the meat were really really great!

                  The shank part of the meat was shoulder like, more melting, and the rest was similar to the loin.

                  Thanks everyone and happy new years!

                  1. re: gastrognome

                    How many hours was the ham in the oven when you removed it @ 7:30 am?

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Oops! that is an excellent question. I put it in around 11pm. So about 8.5 hours.

                      1. re: gastrognome

                        Yesterday, I prepared a 12 pound Fresh Ham, skin on....after leaving the roast out of refrigeration for about 5 hours @ 59* in my friend's basement kitchen. The roast was placed in a preheated oven @ 350* for 30 minutes, then the oven thermostat was dropped down to 225*. The subtotal time in the oven was 9.5 hours to reach 150*, then the thermostat was raised to 500 to crisp the skin for 10 minutes. Unfortunately, only part of the skin was crisp, so I removed the roast from the oven and placed it under the broiler to crisp. for about 30 seconds only before it started to burn. The Final Result did not look *Golden* like the roasts from Chinatown do, but nevertheless, the skin was crackling good....without fear of cracking a tooth.

                        Some points to note. My goal was to try and duplicate the the Chinese Roast Pig you purchase in NYC's Chinatown Barbecue/Roasted Meats restaurants. After some research and tips from other Chowhounds, I was directed to a an old Saveur Magazine article and recipe. The method called for air drying and many many pricks of the skin, which I made with the assist of a dental instrument, literally poking well over a thousand holes after a cramped arm and 30 minutes time. Before seasoning the roast with Kosher Salt, I covered the ham in Baking Soda and Scalded the roast with Boiling Water. I repeated the water shower four more times with the diluted Baking Soda (re-boiled) pour-off solution. I added a final rinse with clean boiling water, pat dried and brushed on rice wine vinegar to neutralize any residual Baking Soda. During the roasting process, I would also baste the roast with the rendered fat and re-poke the roast again with the dental instrument, releasing more fat for the last 4 hours.

                        The following pictures show the roast when removed @ 9.5 hours, after the 10 minute high heat blast and finally after 30 seconds under the broiler to blister the skin.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          I usually cook this kind of thing on a charcoal grill, but my method is simply to score and salt, rescore and resalt after a few hours of cooking, and finally, when the top side of the crackling is done, I cut it off and cook the crackling separately. This lets any fat attached to the back(meat side) of the crackling cook off, which will result in much better crackling. You can do the same thing in an oven by placing the skin on a broiling pan(so that the fat drains away from the crackling), then baking at 300+ degrees until it's as you want it.

                          There's less risk of burning than if you used the broiler, and I find that the broiler often results in excessively brittle crackling for my taste.

                2. re: fourunder

                  No, the only problem was that I didn't use my own judgment and left the thing in the oven way too long, having listened to advice (from here BTW) about getting to an internal temp of 190 - 200 and keeping it there. Why i let this get in the way of common sense still baffles me. The 300* temp was necessary to crisp the skin & render the fat -- which it did beautifully.

                  Next time, this is going to be an awesome dish.

                  1. re: rjbh20

                    "Low and slow" for ridiculous amounts of time is like a mantra on here when it comes to pork, and folks often don't stop to think that it's not always appropriate when offering advice. I will say that you can get a fresh ham to the same fork tender consistency as a shoulder, you just need to treat it more gingerly- lower cook temp, less cook time.