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Pulled pork

I am cooking a Whole picnic roast pork shoulder-12 lbs this week and I am trying to decide the best way to cook it. My only option is in the oven but what about seasonings or adding moisture? I remember when I was a kid my mom just put sea salt,pepper, and some garlic on hers. She cooked it on a roasting pan with some water with very low temp in the oven. I am wanting to use the leftovers to make carnitas and sandwiches so maybe using less seasoning in the roasting process is better? I have read about people roasting theirs at 250 for up to 12 hrs with a pot of water in the oven, and also doing a dry rub over night before hand. Does anyone have any thoughts or words of wisdom?

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    1. re: linguafood

      This looks like a good recipe. I don't think my roast will fit in a ziploc so I may have to come up with a different container.

      1. re: fianna

        Yeah, 12 lbs. might be pushing it. I've not had roasts larger than 10 lbs., and they fit in those 2 gallon bags.

        A big (well, huge, let's not kid ourselves) tupperware container should work just as well.

        PS: I added toasted fennel seeds to this rub & upped the cayenne. You can obviously tweak it to your liking.

        1. re: linguafood

          When I bought it the grocery store was having a sale so I got the biggest one because I was so excited about the price...... maybe that wasn't the best plan but I will get a lot of good meat!

          Thank you for the spice ideas- cayenne sounds really good to me.

          1. re: fianna

            When you have done this recipe have you worried about basting it? Obviously you wouldn't do it every hour if you cook it over night like she did in the recipe but I am curious.

            1. re: fianna

              No, never basted at all. The timing can be tricky, as I'm not an early riser by far, so I usually start the roast the night before. A 12 lbs. roast can easily take anywhere between 15-18 hours.

              I've also smoked it in my electric smoker for 3 hours and then finished cooking it in the oven. It comes out fork tender if you estimate roughly 1-1.5 hrs. per lb.

              Man, all that talk about pork shoulder makes me wanna make one very soon :-)

    2. I used Ideas in Food's shoulder with harissa and full-sugar Dr. Pepper. The shoulder itself is salted before going into the bath.

      300ºF until it's done; baste once an hour and add additional liquid if you notice it evaporating away (you generally don't have to).

      1. This is how I do pork shoulder now. It's for skin-off pork shoulder.

        Salt or brine the roast. Put in dutch oven. Roast in oven at 200 overnight with lid on.

        Pour off all the liquid, separate fat and reduce. Save the fat!

        Pull pork into chunks, set on roasting pan/sheet pan. Broil on high until tops get crispy. Flip and repeat.

        Make whatever sauce you want for the pork using the reduced pork liquid. Mix back with broiled pork bits and pull.

        Nothing wasted and the flavor is fantastic!

        12 Replies
        1. re: joonjoon

          What do you use the saved fat for?

          Rendered pork fat outside of the occasional bacon or belly fat is way too decadent for daily use for me.

          The roasted pork butt meat itself is on the edge of guilty pleasure for most I'm guessing,

            1. re: jjjrfoodie

              I use it for literally everything that involves fat and heat. The only oils I keep around at home now are toasted sesame oil and good quality EVOO (which I only use to finish).

              Everything else gets cooked in saved beef/pork/bacon/chicken fat or butter.

              Here's my favorite "highlighting the fat" dish - take some brown potatoes, and slice them into ~1/2 inch pieces. Put em in a microwave safe bowl with a little fat and nuke for ~6-7 minutes

              Dump a generous amount of animal fat in it, salt, and mix the whole thing around vigorously. you want to sort of scuff up the surface of the potato.

              In the meantime get your oven as hot as it can possibly go and put a baking sheet on the top rack.

              Take our baking sheet and lay the potatoes out on it.

              Give it about 10 minutes, check for browning and flip. Go another 10 or so minutes.

              If you did it right you will be eating the tastiest and crunchiest potatoes you've ever had. I like to serve mine with a spicy mayo. Something with sambal and mayo and scallions or something...or whatever else you feel like.

              1. re: joonjoon

                Sorry, but what are brown potatoes?

                1. re: linguafood

                  Brown skinned potatoes...like a russet. (As opposed to tan like yukon gold or red ones)

                2. re: joonjoon

                  Yum! I am definitely trying this!

                  1. re: jjjrfoodie

                    I save it in the fridge and if something needs the hit of tasty fat I use it instead of oil or butter.

                    If my husband wants a fried egg but we don't have bacon, I would use this.

                    I have used it for certain starts for sauces.
                    I use sparingly and not all the time.

                    1. re: jjjrfoodie

                      In Poland, Ukraine, etc. the leftover drippings from roasting pork are called smaletz (see the relation to schmaltz?) and it's served with bread as a snack - often with booze. It's one of the greatest bar snacks I've ever encountered.

                    2. re: joonjoon

                      Joonjoon--I hope you don't mind that I copied your comments on the pork and the potatoes to save in my cookery files! It all just sounds sooo good, and saving the fat for later use--yum!

                      1. re: penni

                        Penni it's an honor that you're saving my suggestions! I read through what I wrote and noticed a couple things that you may need to know for the potatoes..

                        When nuking, add a little water to the potatoes too and cover with plastic wrap. Take 'em out of the microwave and toss every 3 minutes or so for even cooking.

                        Actual microwave time depends on amount of potatoes you're cooking - the goal here is to get them slightly undercooked since they're going in the oven for another ~20 minutes.

                        And don't be shy with the salt or fat, the potatoes can taken 'em!

                        If you want to be extra crazy you can follow the same recipe but shallow fry in a pan instead...you can get the potatoes even crunchier that way...but the oven is easier and less messy. :)

                        1. re: joonjoon

                          Joonjoon--thanks so much, I have to try this before winter's over (guess I'm glad I've got 6 more weeks, haha)!!

                    3. Season & cook. You can rub ahead of time, but I'd do it as a time saver only.

                      I would set the oven on about 300-325 and put the pork on the center rack. If you want a more indirect cook, place a pan directly below the meat...you can even put some water in it if you want to add moisture to the oven (not necessary, but it makes some people feel better). If you don't put a pan underneath, you'll likely have to flip the pork about half way through the cook.

                      Don't take it out of the oven before 190 degrees internal...preferably, take it out between 195-200. Yes, there is a noticeable difference between 190 & 195.

                      If you don't need it right away, you can wrap it in foil/plastic as soon as it comes out of the oven and put it in a small cooler...pack the empty cooler space with towels and close the lid. Don't open it until you're ready to pull. It will hold for hours with no loss of quality (except the outside will not be crisp any longer).

                      Pull, taste, and re-season. Enjoy.

                      PS...if you season with a rub & cook at higher temperatures (275-350), try to get one with low sugar or no sugar.

                      1. -------------------
                        have read about people roasting theirs at 250 for up to 12 hrs with a pot of water in the oven, and also doing a dry rub over night before hand.

                        All correct for me.

                        I smoke my butts, but do a dry rub, keep a water pan to ensure moisture and cook at 250F. 275F if you are in a hurry but prefer 250F.

                        Cook on V rack in roasting pan to allow fat to drip off and cook with fat cap up.
                        Cook to 195F to 200F internal for pulling.
                        It's done when it's done. Time varies by meat size.
                        Keep an eye on things after 6 hours and if bark /outside starts to get overly dark, tent /cover with foil for remaining cooking time

                        I have a Williams Sonoma meat injector so I do both a dry rub and inject wet mixtures as I see fit before cooking. I don't brine because the size of a pork butt/shoulder would require more than a day if not two for the brine to fully permeate. Samller cuts sure. Not a butt.

                        Restaurant quality end product always here for me.

                        It's not hard to get a good finished product.
                        Low and slow, a good meat thermometer, some moistuer due to the long cook time and rub of choice is all ya need.

                        Good luck.

                        1. Just an aside, but leftover roast pork isn't really a good stand-in for "carnitas." I suspect you know that and just mean you plan to eat pork with tortillas, Mexican style. For carnitas you need to either deep-fry the pork or do a suitable workaround that achieves similar results. You want chunks for carnitas, not pulled pork. But again, I'm guessing you know that.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: LorenzoGA

                            Thank you for the clarification. I doubt I have had true authentic carnitas- but some day I plan too now that I know there is a difference.

                            1. re: fianna

                              Carnitas is a completely different preparation than what you are trying to do. That is not to say that what you end up with won't be wonderful; it just won't be carnitas.

                              1. re: jpc8015

                                Thankyou for lesson guys!
                                How would you make the leftovers into tacos or other Mexican style iteration?

                                1. re: fianna

                                  I would just use the pulled pork in place of carnitas exactly as is, assuming your pork is moist enough. I have had pulled pork quesadillas that were phenominal.

                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                    Exactly. As I said, eating pulled pork "Mexican style"--whatever that may mean to each of us--can be delicious, but it won't much resemble carnitas in flavor or texture. I can envision pulled pork in tacos, tortas, enchiladas, and whatever. Yum!

                          2. Today is brine day and I realized my roast has skin. I know usually you want to score it but should I roast it skin side up or down?
                            This is the recipe I'm doing

                            Hers has a fat side but I don't think the skin is still there

                            1. Fat side up, don't bother scoring it, dry rub the entire shoulder 12 hours before cooking. !95 internal temp, it's done.

                              1. I rub, rest, then cook my pork in a Reynolds Turkey Bag then after shredding I add some of the liquids in the bag back into the meat as well as some BBQ sauce either the smokey/sweet kind (like Sweet Baby Ray's) or a homemade vinegar sauce like this one.I prefer using a large crock pot because I don't like to leave the house with a gas oven on.

                                1. 12 lbs. is a beast. I would allow at least 12 hours, but expect closer to 16, at 225 - 250 oven temp, to get it very tender. Resist the temptation to crank up the heat to hurry it along. Using an internal meat thermometer, you want to pull the meat when the interior reads around 210 - 220 degrees, but to ensure tenderness, make sure the probe slides in and out very easily. It should easily fall apart at this time.

                                  Don't be shy about seasoning it. I would slash the surface with a sharp knife and rub plenty of Kosher salt all over the meat and into the crevices. Use a nice dry rub if you wish. You could stuff whole garlic cloves into the slashes, too.

                                  Consider injecting the meat with a couple of cans of chicken broth, or homemade chicken broth, too, if you're worried about moisture loss, but a fatty cut like shoulder will generally be fine by itself.

                                  Consider this: cut the meat into four separate, equal sized chunks, and rub all the meat with a nice Mexican style rub - S&P, dried oregano, dried cumin, chili powder, etc. - and then smoke it on a charcoal grill with some mesquite or oak chips for about 4 hours, maintaining a 225 grill temp.

                                  THEN put it in a deep pan, cover very well with foil and put in the oven at 225 - 250 and continue cooking until tender. You want carnitas for leftovers? This will be fantastic!

                                  1. I use the slow-cooker and have some cooking right now.