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Mar 13, 2013 05:07 PM

9lb Pork Shoulder: HELP!

I purchased a giant 9 pound whole pork shoulder for use in my pressure cooker (thanks for the suggestions from my pork loin thread)

I'm thinking I should chop it in half first because that's too much pork at once. Is it ok to just put the other half in a zip lock freezer bag and freeze? If it won't fit, should I just chop the remaining half into 2 or 3 smaller pieces?

I've never purchased one so I don't know what to expect when I open the package.

Should I attempt to remove any large and obvious chunks of fat from the perimeter ?

Should I attempt to cut it in to 1 inch cubes so it cooks quicker and easier to eat when cooked? (I use meat in a bone broth at work so it's easier if it's cut in small pieces so I don't have to fuss with a knife & fork at work.

If 3 pounds of beef chuck roast cut in 1" cubes cooks nicely in my pressure cooker in 30 minutes, any guesses on how long this might take to cook?

I've essentially been boiling the beef & chicken in the pressure cooker and it has been coming out great. I'm tempted to add enough water to cover the pork.

BTW, is it normally this cheap: $1.29/pound?

Any other thoughts or suggestions? (I'm not exactly sure what other questions I should ask).

Many thanks to everyone for your ongoing help as I get into the cooking scene !

Caveman Mike (on the Paleo Diet)

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  1. You can freeze the other half....I would wrap it in butcher paper or foil first then put into a zip lock...if it won't fit in the zip lock, double wrap it in foil (heavy duty).

    What are you planning to make out of the meat once it's cooked? I'm assuming it has a bone in it? If you cut it in half, you'll have roughly 4 1/2 pounds not counting any bone...cook it 12-15 minutes per pound. The price you paid is quite reasonable; I paid .79 lb a few months ago when they were on sale and stocked up the freezer with pork shoulders (although the biggest I snagged was about 6 lb.) Just depends on where you live.

    I wouldn't remove any fat until after it's cooked; personal preference....

    3 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      I typically add chicken, beef or pork to a chicken bone broth (home made) and some sweet potato. That's my stand-by lunch.

      At the urging of my mother-in-law AND a work friend, I made a major investment in a very good set up cutco knives. I will investigate to see what knife would be appropriate to attack this raw pork shoulder :-)


      1. re: mike2401

        If you buy a whole shoulder again, you might want to ask the butcher to saw it in half for you. I do this all the time at the supermarket and they are very nice about it. I freeze the other half.

        1. re: Terrie H.

          Per the other thread I just posted, I was surprised at how much meat is left after cooking. Next time, I'm ok with cooking the whole thing, but great suggestion about asking them to saw it.


    2. I used to use my pressure cooker so much back in the day, when I lived at an insane elevation in Colorado. It was wonderful to have it, so I imagine you are enjoying yours.

      That said, it is so easy to braise a nice bunch of pork in the oven, or on stove top ( oh MAN ~ Carnitas !!! ) with lots of spices... so many good recipes on the net.
      I never cooked pork in a PC, so others have the advice on that.

      You can cut the meat into 2x2 or 3x3 chunks. DON'T take off too much of the fat, maybe just the gigantic pieces . I would imagine that if you cooked the meat without cutting it up first, that it would be more shred-able than cut-able :-)
      If you're into it, once the chunks are cooked, drain them, season them and throw them on a baking sheet, then pop them in the oven for awhile to get them crusty...... YUM !!!!!

      5 Replies
      1. re: oooYUM

        oooYUM: could you please elaborate on the shredding vs. cutting. Is pork shoulder meant to be shredded only?

        I would kind of like to have pieces of pork that are not all stringy and hard to chew.


        1. re: mike2401

          Hi Mike, all I can say is, it is very doubtful that if you get this pork shoulder cooked to tender, that it is going to be "all stringy and hard to chew".

          My local HEB actually sells bags of "Carnita" meat that is just pork shoulder cut up into 2, 3, 4 x chunks, ready to get cookin'.
          They take away your work of cutting it up .....
          It is succulent and def NOT stringy and tough to chew when it's cooked.....

          There are SOOOO many Carnitas techniques, and good recipes abound, and they are very very easy.

          It's fine if you don't cut up the meat. Cook it whole, it will be as tender and nice as it would be if you cut it up first.....

          I am curious, why would you think throwing a hunk of seasoned meat into the oven to roast or braise is more difficult than pressure cooking? or is it that time is the factor?

          1. re: oooYUM

            Actually, I'm rethinking my position about wanting to pressure cook it. The pressure cooker is certainly more difficult to get right: I will need to anticipate how many minutes per pound, ensure that I have enough water because my PC spews out about 4 cups per hour. If it runs dry, it burns, and totally messes up the timing, etc.

            Really, the only downside of the slow cooker is 1) the speed (or lack thereof), and 2)the heavy stone vessel is somewhat harder to clean and manage (but certainly not enough to sway the decision).


            1. re: mike2401

              I recently tried those slow cooker liners (sold with the foil and baggies) and it makes clean up so much easier.

              1. re: mike2401

                I am so glad you said that-I do a lot of recipes usking this cut of pork that are variations on the braise, including BBQ Pulled Pork, South American Pork stew and also the Zuni Cafe Mock Porchetta. I use a good sized La Creuset, or cast-oven skillet if pre-marinading and a slow, slow oven.

                Or, alternatively a good big slow cooker, but if you go this route,cut back on any vinegar or vinegar-based ingedients if using a slow-cooker, it seems to intensify that flavour and put the blend of ingredients out-of-balance.

        2. It is probably too late, but I recommend against the pressure cooker. Here is my never fail, easy does it pork shoulder recipe.

          Preheat your oven to 400. Combine a cup of brown sugar with a tablespoon or two of salt, chili powder, some cayenne if you like a little bite. Rub this all over your shoulder. Put it in a roasting pan (with sides--you will get a lot of fat in the bottom). Put it in the oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 225. Go to bed. (Did I mention that you do this the night before you want to eat pulled pork?)

          When you wake up in the morning, the house will smell luscious. You can sneak a bit of the roast for breakfast--it is big, and no one will notice--but it really will be ready at lunch time, or it will hold till dinner.

          You will get a lovely brown crust, just slightly sweet since the sugar will caramelize, and pork so tender that no knife will be needed. (If you are paleo-ing, you could leave the sugar out. And if southwestern spices aren't your thing, it is good with just salt and pepper.)

          This freezes well.

          I think this rtechnique was originally from Nigella Lawson, but I got it from my friend Maggie, so it is always called Maggie's Butt at my house.

          7 Replies
          1. re: sparrowgrass

            U trying to burn down my house? :-)

            I'm not comfortable having something in the oven while I'm sleeping.

            I was only marginally comfortable with the electric slow cooker when I was at work, but at least if the house burned down, I wasn't there at the time!

            Since the pork shoulder is foreign to me, I may wait till Sunday to cook it.


            1. re: mike2401

              Take comfort in knowing that it's really, really hard to mess up a pork shoulder. You'd sort of have to go out of your way. There's so much fat in it that it just sort of cooks in its own juices and fat. Rub with your choice of seasonings and away you go.

              I'm terrified of pressure cookers, so have never used one, but pretty regularly cook 5 pound pork shoulders in the oven. 275 "until done" usually about 6 hours. I'd definitely cut yours in half, for no other reason than time. And a 5 pounder still leaves you with tons of cooked meat.

              Personally, I wouldn't cut it into chunks for my first time out of the gate. Part of the fun of a shoulder is the pulling when it's done! Mix up some sugar free coleslaw and that is some damn good eating.

              OH. Something to watch for. I've noticed some pork shoulders, even if they aren't labeled as such, will have been injected with solutions or just water. I like to cook mine with big chunks of onion underneath that slowly caramelize as the roast cooks. So, if I end up with one that exudes a ton of water, I siphon it off. Even if you don't use onions, I think it roasts nicer without all that water. I want a long and slow roast, not a braise!

              1. re: Violatp

                BTW, lots of people are terrified of pressure cookers but today's pressure cookers have 4 or 5 redundant safety features which prevent you from being able to open the cooker while it's under pressure.

                Here's a video of mine spinning away:

                Mine is about 12 or 15 years old (still much safer than the ones from 40 years ago). Today's fancy ones are pretty much silent, and have a pressure indicator which rises and falls to show the pressure level:



              2. re: mike2401

                I am married to an overly cautious fireman and I cook mine overnight :)

              3. re: sparrowgrass

                It's not too late and the more I'm thinking about it, I might just use my slow cooker for this.


                1. re: mike2401

                  Well, here's a no-brainer....
                  Pork shoulder into slow cooker.
                  One can of Root Beer poured over
                  (OR: sometimes use Coke, Mexican CocaCola (can be found in the Latin section of Walmart, for example) I've used Dr Pepper before since we always have it on hand.)
                  Salt and pepper, let it slow cook.
                  It will be amazing pulled pork for the beginner.

                2. re: sparrowgrass

                  Sparrowgrass - You didn't say if the roast should be covered during the overnight cook. I would imagine it would so as to collect all those juices but I wanted to clarify. How large a shoulder would the sugar and spices cover - a full pork shoulder of about 9 lbs?

                3. I just made Carnitas this weekend. Cut the meat into large chunks. I did an overnight marinade in:

                  Chile powder
                  Mexican oregano
                  Salt & pepper
                  Quartered onion
                  A couple smashed garlic cloves
                  Lime juice
                  Small can of chipotle peppers chopped and adobo sauce included

                  Put that in a wrapped bowled in the fridge overnight.

                  Next day, dump into a large, heavy pot with one small can of stock and enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil, turn down to low simmer, cover, and let cook for two hours. Skim any foam, but leave any oil that comes from the fat melting.

                  Remove lid and turn up heat to a medium boil until the water cooks away. The oil from the fat will now crisp up the edges of the meat a little.

                  All totaled, about 3.5 hours on the stove.

                  Serve as tacos, on buns, over rice. Still juicy and tender the next couple of days when I had leftovers.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: THoey1963

                    YES !!!! This is what I'm talkin' about !!
                    Your marinade sounds good !!!!
                    I may steal it!
                    If you use lard, a cut-up orange or two and some coriander in the braise it's also Amazing!!!!

                    Mike, I would check through the many "Carnitas" threads here, or google Carnitas recipes and go for it.

                    I think once you get the hang of pork shoulder, it's going to become your favorite meat :-)

                    Believe violatp when it's said, it's really really hard to mess up a pork shoulder
                    You'd pretty much have to be tryin'

                    1. re: oooYUM

                      Steal it if you like. I read about 10 different online recipes and then took what I thought sounded good out of it...

                  2. It should freeze nicely. Wrap it up tight in a layers of wrap to minimize the air space.

                    Beef chuck and pork shoulder are ideal cuts for a pressure cooker.