HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Have pork shoulder will travel...any advice?

For Easter I'm planning on making a pork shoulder; hoping to get one around 8-10 pounds (will call my butcher about that--also, does that sound like a good size for 16 people, considering there will be lamb, ziti, etc?). I've made pernil several times (not for Easter), but this year I want to make one Italian style... any thoughts on this recipe? It's for a 4-6 pound pork shoulder, but I'm planning on getting one almost twice as large--does a 6 hour cooking time sound about right?


Here's my dilemna--I've only ever made pork shoulder when I've consumed it right afterwards. The dinner is at my mother's house, about 40 minutes away. My plan is to get the thing in the oven at 5:00am, cook for roughly 6 hours, and pull it out at 11:00. I want to leave my house by 11:30.

We have a traditional Italian meal starting with antipasti, then pasta and finally the meat. Everyone's coming at 1, so I doubt we'll even get to the meat until about 3.

How do I keep the pork moist and delicious from 11-3? I'm planning on gently reheating it in the oven tented with foil at about 300, does that sound right?. I'm assuming I should leave the pork whole (as opposed to cutting it up at my house) until I get to my mother's house, right? Should I cut it before or after I reheat? I'm thinking it might be easier to reheat it while it's whole, that way I can crank up the heat for a few minutes to get the skin crispy. If I do it this way, I would do the opposite of the recipe I posted and cook it on 275 the whole time at my house, then reheat it at my mom's, removing the foil at the end and cranking up the heat to 475 to crisp the skin--does that sound like a good plan?

Any suggestions, thoughts? thanks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't think it's going to be done in six hours. Not done the way I like anyway. I generally allow at least an hour per pound.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kengk

      hmmm, you might be right. I'll plan on starting it earlier (3am). If it's done earlier than that, as long as it sits well (which I guess is what I'm asking, LOL!) it'll be fine...

    2. Gosh - Can you just spend the night at Mom's and make the roast there? That would be my first suggestion.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JerryMe

        Unfortunately I can't :-( have way way way too much to do the night before and it's just easier rather than transporting all my ingrediants, tools, etc. Last year I did a porchetta...cooked it all the way at my house, then just crisped it up at my mom's hosue and it was fine and stayed warm, just not sure if a pork shoulder would work the same way...

      2. I don't know what Italian-style pork shoulder is. Pulled, sliced?

        Anyway, a couple of thoughts. Why not cut it in half and essentially do the recipe twice (at the same time)? That way you are back to your original cook time.

        And if it does not matter at all whether the shoulder is whole (or half-whole), what about having it cut into 2x2 cubes? Then you are looking at about a 3 hour cook time, and that's a pretty reliable cook time.
        I do a lot of shoulders - of other animals too, including game - so if you can be more specific about what the end result should be, I can try to help.

        EDIT: I should learn to read. I see now what you want. You might be able to cut your big roast in half (why not get two of the size in the recipe?). If you really want the big roast and want to keep it big, I believe the rule of thumb is that the cooking time doubles for each doubling in thickness, all else equal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ttochow

          Actually that's not a bad idea, two smaller roasts might save me from having to get up at 3am :-) I want the meat to be falling apart tender...I'm not going to pull it, but somewhere between slicing and the texture needed for pulled I would say.

        2. This is a Wegmans recipe for Italian roast pork as general guidance:


          It calls for longer, slower cooking.

          1. If you have a slow cooker, that would heat it up w/out drying it out and then put it in the oven to crisp up if you want.

            1. You can fully cook it at Home.
              Take to Mom's( it will still be very warm) and put in a 190F oven and hold till dinner.

              1. Six hours at about 300 degrees F sounds about right for that size shoulder if: 1. You don't want the meat pullable, but, rather, sliced, and 2. You blast it with high heat for an hour first, for a total of seven hours., and 3. You wrap it in foil during the low-temp roasting period. But, I wouldn't count on six hours at 275 degrees F, then holding, then searing for an hour at your Mom's house getting the job done.

                The high heat sear in the beginning will kick start the internal temperature of the roast climbing higher faster than it would if you merely did six hours at 275 degrees F. In other words, one hour at 475 degrees F then five hours at 275 degrees will get you much further down the road of sliceable than simply six hours at 275 degrees F. If you're wanting to swap the searing step from the beginning to the end (and I agree with your decision to do this - this is a good idea since you want crisp skin), you'll need to stray from the recipe even more than simply swapping when you sear the shoulder if you're wanting this method to go down the successfully in the schedule you've laid out. You'll need to play with the temperature, time, and some foil.

                Holding it safely and keeping it hot is easy. Simply wrap the shoulder in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil then wrap it in two large towels (ones that you use to dry off with after a shower) then store this in a cooler. The roast will be plenty hot even after holding for four hours.

                If you want the outside to be seared and crusty, here's what I'd do:

                1. Wrap the shoulder in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil.

                2. Roast directly on the oven rack set in the middle of the oven at 300 degrees F for 6 hours.

                3. Pull and hold as described above until 1 1/2 - 2 hours before you're ready to eat.

                4. Unwrap, pat dry with paper towels, and broil on all sides until seared and crispy on all sides.

                5. Rest for 30 - 45 minutes uncovered.

                6. Slice 1/2" thick and serve.

                10 Replies
                1. re: 1POINT21GW

                  I was going to suggest the cooler method as well. I and many others do it often with barbecue, and it works great. The above recommendation is right on.

                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                    That's INCREDIBLY helpful, and I did not realize that about the heat blast at the beginning vs. the end. Thanks! The more I think about it the more I think I want to meat to be closer to pullable that sliceable, so I'm thinking I might cook it for closer to 8 hours at 300. Someone upthread mentioned cooking two smaller roasts to shorten the cooking time--if I do that, would 6 hours at 300 work for the texture I'm going for?

                    I'm getting hungry...

                    1. re: italianyc84

                      Remember that the roast is going to stay incredibly hot during your travel time if you wrap it, towel it, and put it in a cooler. That would be extra cooking time, albeit at a slightly lower temp.

                      The main thing that concerns me is that I believe the cooler will prevent you from getting crispy skin. I think it will be mush. Tasty mush, but...

                      There are methods of cooking the skin with the roast until it it tender, then removing the skin, setting it aside, and then when the roast is ready, crisping the skin and the serving with the meat. I've seen it mostly in the context of pork bellies, but I think the principle is the same. I don't have any experience here, but my intuition tells me the skin should not go into the cooler.

                      1. re: ttochow

                        hmm, I guess I assumed that it would get mushy, but that the broiler would turn the mush into crisp. Or do you think it would be mushy beyond repair at that point?

                        1. re: italianyc84

                          I know from experience that turkey and chicken skins cannot be repaired after being in the cooler. I would imagine prk skin would be even worse. There is also the question of what happens to the meat while trying!

                          My best guess is that you should cook the meat separately from the skin, cooler it, and and forget about it until you are ready to serve. As said above, it will be steaming hot even after 4 hours. Plus it will be very, very well rested. You don't want to shock the meat with another blast of high temperature heat. You'll just drive the juices out.

                          I don't cook pork skin. But I would figure out how to do so, and then do what you can at home (render the fat?) and then finish the skin at the destination. Then provide a bit of crisp skin with a serving of meat. It would be better to have the skin attached, but your circumstances are not ideal.

                          The skin will absorb a lot of moisture in the cooler. Even under a broiler it will take some doing to drive it back out.

                          1. re: ttochow

                            Hmm...maybe I'll cook with the skin on (to provide moisture/flavor to the meat), then when I remove the pork from the oven I'll remove the skin, wrap the pork as described above in the cooler, and just keep the skin seperate. I would think the skin should cool significantly unwrapped in the half hour or so between the time it comes out of the oven and the time I leave the house, so wrapping it loosely in foil for the car ride shouldn't make it mushy beyond repair, will it? Once I arrive at my mother's house I can pop the skin under the broil to crisp and serve along side the meat.

                            1. re: italianyc84

                              I think your odds of success are much higher. What moisture there is, I would guess, would mostly be condensation. You might pop the skin in the freezer uncovered for tha half hour on a cooling rack. Good luck. Now you've got me hungry.

                    2. re: 1POINT21GW

                      I decided it might be easier to cook two smaller roasts- I have two 4.5# pork shoulder roasts. planning on using the cooler method to keep warm

                      going to follow this recipe:


                      I've never cooked two roasts at thesame time-do I need to adjust the cooking time, or will two roasts cook the same as one would? thanks!

                      1. re: italianyc84

                        I wouldn't adjust the cooking time because I wouldn't go by time, but rather texture. After all, that's what you're after right? So, here's what I'd do, cook per the recipe and begin checking when it directs. But, if the texture isn't tender enough, keep cooking it until it is. It's really that simple.

                        When you're goal is to turn a tough piece of meat into a tender piece of meat, you're at the mercy of the meat. It will tell you when it's done, not the other way around. So, simply let texture be your guide. When it's done, it's done.

                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                          +1. The rule of thumb says cooking time is related to thickness. Not perfect but that's why it is ROT. Each of the two small is nearly as thick as one small. Think hamburgers or meatballs and it makes sense.

                    3. Thank you again for the great info--will report back!