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Cooking Pork Shoulder?

I'm having people over next week for dinner and have a pack of pork shoulder (individual portions in one pack from Costco) in the freezer. I'm new to cooking and have never cooked any pork product other than bacon. I do have a big Le Creuset french oven that my husband bought me over the holidays. Can I stack the pork shoulder pieces in there and let it cook for a an hour or two? Should I add liquid to the pot? Will it turn out like pulled pork? Any recipes or suggestions on cooking would be appreciated!

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  1. Good choice. Pork shoulder is very forgiving because of its succulence. Yes a braise should have a small amount of seasoned liquid. You can slowly braise it in almost anything. Recipes for braised pork use anything from bock beer, capers and milk, wine, soy based liquid (chinese red cooking) one french recipe even calls for grilling after braising to add crispness. There are a million recipes, once you decide on the flavor you want.

    1. An hour or two will produce disappointing results.

      A bit of water, salt, seasonings of your choice, and a good lid. Oven 275-300 degrees. About five hours.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sandylc

        Agreed. I've had excellent results this way, with a few pounds of pork shoulder and seasoning in my le crueset. Check after a few hours and keep cooking until it falls apart. When it falls apart it's done.

      2. How thick and big are the pieces? Are there bones? That might help with cooking ideas. Any idea of what you might like to serve? You could go the pulled pork direction or a carnitas taco idea.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Terrie H.

          The pieces are maybe an inch thick at most and they are maybe 4-5 inches long. If they weren't in the bottom of the freezer downstairs, I would go check.
          I'm thinking pulled pork would be good with a BBQ sauce and cornbread. I found this recipe, but it's roasted, using a roasting pan which I do not have.
          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ty...

          1. re: jllc30

            Not sure, but sounds like you may have "boneless country style pork ribs", which are just cuts from the shoulder end, cut to look like ribs. Would cook like cuts of shoulder anyway

            1. re: malabargold

              Thanks! I checked the package and it just says pork shoulder. I was searching for a recipe and came across this one for tacos. The pork I bought looks just like the pork they are using, so maybe it is the rib meat. There aren't any bones.

              http://justpinchme.com/2011/02/pulled...

              1. re: jllc30

                Yes, you have pork shoulder, its just been cut up into thick strips. Sometimes these are labeled boneless country style ribs, just because they are cut into strips that vaguely resemble ribs in shape, but it is still shoulder meat and any recipe calling for cut up shoulder should work fine

                1. re: jllc30

                  You might consider cutting it in chunks, braising it on very low heat (I prefer the oven on 250f) in small amount of liquid with garlic, then putting it on higher heat on the stove to crisp in the fat that was rendered while it cooked. That moist meat with the crispy outside is one of the most delicious things ever.

                  1. re: jllc30

                    If you have in your freezer what we have in ours, and ours also came from Costco, 4 cryovac packs of pork in one larger package, it has been 'enhanced' with a salt solution. You don't need to add much liquid to your braise, I'd just add some sliced onions. Brown the pork, put the onions on the bottom of a dutch oven or a roaster pan with a cover, add the pork and braise for several hours until it is quite tender.

                    I bought this Costco product because I thought the smaller packages of pork would be handy as opposed to a 10# pork shoulder. I would rather have a larger piece of pork rather than several smaller pieces. (It's not just one piece of pork per package, it's a couple small pieces). The package actually calls it 'sirloin' but it cooks like shoulder.

            2. Pork shoulder is very easy to cook. It has enough fat and favor that it is difficult to overcook it. I don't think you can get "pulled pork" by cooking it in a Dutch Oven. You need to smoke it and barbecue it on an indirect heat source.

              1. I will 100% vouch that this recipe is wonderful, rustic, and OH SO DELICIOUS! Perfect for easy entertaining.

                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                1. I did Bittman's pork shoulder recipe from last week's NY Times Magazine:
                  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/mag...

                  Also see Bittman's narrative at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/mag...

                  It was very good.

                  (I read the NY Times online whereas my wife reads the print version. And she hasn't really figured out that recipes are published online a few days before they appear in print. So she was amazed to see the recipe and pictures appear in the magazine a day after we ate it. She was saying "Wow, what a coincidence -- this looks just like what we had yesterday." Heh... )

                  1. The recipe ideas suggested so far look great, from the pulled pork idea to the more conventional roasted flavor profile suggested by letsindulge. I will add another direction: you might consider going green, with any of the tomatillo-based green sauces that make fabulous green chili or meat to fill tacos, enchiladas, etc. For example:

                    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ty...

                    I do find the way your pork is cut, as if it were steaks, to be a bit odd. But why not? Most recipes for pork should involve taking it to falling apart condition anyway. The steak shapes would even afford more surface for browning, if you're into that sort of thing.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bada Bing

                      When our local store has whole pork shoulders on sale I will frequently buy two. One gets slow smoked on the Weber kettle. The other I cut up into 1- 1 1/2" chunks.

                      Put the cubed meat in a large pan like a lasagna pan, salt, black pepper and red pepper. Roast uncovered at 350 until the fat has mostly rendered out and the meat is falling apart tender and brown. Give it a stir every now and then. It freezes very well and is nice to have on hand to make bbq sandwiches, or for tacos.

                      It takes more than an hour or two to get it the way I like it.

                    2. Sounds like 'pork steaks'/sliced butt .~~ Then your comment of 4 or 5 inches long makes me think maybe CS ribs (from the butt type)....Maybe you need to make the trip down stairs to see exactly what you have ~~ Both are part and parcel from the same cut...the pork shoulder-butt ....but IMO will yield slightly different end results ~~ If pulled pork is your objective then I suggest you purchase a whole pork butt and go from there ~ Consider seasoning/rubbing and slow roasting for several hours.

                      Fun!

                      1. jllc30, where I live in Illinois, Costco sells these large packs of pork shoulders-- there are actually 2 in the pack, deboned, and the whole thing usually weighs about 16 lbs total. I would typically cut one of them down to about 7 lbs. for a good size to cook (freezing the rest for later), then braise it in a little liquid. But lately I've enjoyed roasting even more. I have made the following recipe from Molly Steven's book, "All About Roasting," and it's delicious.

                        1. After cutting down one of the shoulders to about a 7lb section (which will feed 8 to 10 people), score any surface fat with a sharp knife. Parallel lines about 1/2 inch apart will do. Try to avoid cutting into the meat.

                        2. Season with salt and pepper. Place the roast on a baking sheet and refrigerate, loosely covered or uncovered for 18 to 48 hours in the refrigerator. This step really helps give you a nice crisp, brown roast at the end; it's worth it. Let the meat sit at room temp 1 to 2 hours before roasting.

                        3. Roast the pork at 450º for 30 minutes, having placed the baking sheet in the bottom third of your oven. Reduce your temp to 250º, and cook for additional 4 hours, maybe another 15 minutes or so if needed-- you are trying to reach an internal temp of 175º to 185º. Check with a probe thermometer.

                        4. Optional: Browning. For lots of extra-crispy skin, increase your oven temp back up to 450º and give the shoulder another 10 minutes until the surface is deeply browned, but not scorched.

                        5. Rest the roast for 30 minutes. Either chop or shred. Add any juices from the cutting board to the meat, and pour about 3/4 cup of barbeque sauce (if using) over the meat to moisten.

                         
                        1. Lots of good ideas here. It seems like I am always the guy telling someone to grill or smoke something, and I would have some ideas for that, but I think you would have mentioned the grill if you were wanting to do that. Anyway, here is another idea. I tried this, and it was delicious!

                          http://www.chow.com/recipes/29195-slo...

                          1. I really love the Diana Kennedy method for carnitas (here, at homesick texan http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/200... ). It is so versatile! We eat it on tortillas one night, put bbq sauce on it for sandwiches one night, or just pick at it right out of the fridge. So easy and delicious!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ahill

                              This look great! And easy to cook! Thank you so much.

                            2. The NY Times has a story about David Chang's approach to pork shoulder as "Bo Ssam."

                              http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/mag...

                              As well as the recipe.

                              http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/mag...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MGZ

                                That Korean pork shoulder looks terrific. Thanks for sharing the links.

                                1. re: MGZ

                                  Thank you for that link. That sounds amazing!

                                2. I use Dave Lieberman's recipe for beer braised pork and it is always a huge hit. We take it to all kinds of pot lucks and people are always asking for the recipe. I like to keep the meat and the sauce separate because then you get some crispy parts where the dry rubs forms a crust.

                                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/da...

                                  1. Thank you all for the wonderful ideas and recipes! I think I have enough pork to try at least two of these methods/recipes. I will let you know which I choose and how it turns out!

                                    1. You could also do it in a slow cooker if you have one. I put sliced onions in the bottom and used a can of root beer for the moisture. It imparts a really good flavor.

                                      1. Be sure to check the bottom of this page where it says " Home Cooking Board Discussions". You can find related threads there. I especially like the thread "ISO something different to do with pork shoulder" .