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First Time Roasting Pork Shoulder Picnic

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I have a fresh shoulder picnic half - bone-in and almost exactly 5 pounds. There's a small amount of pork skin around the narrower bone end, which I plan to leave in place. I'm going to remove the silly and useless Pop-up "thermometer" (when did they start putting those in pork?)

I've never made a pork roast before and I'm not sure if I should use this for sliced roast, or if I need to go the pulled pork route. (If the latter, this is my Plan B: Shirley Corriher's Pork Shoulder).
http://www.ochef.com/r49.htm
I really want to go sliceable if I can, though.

BTW, I should point out I have no time constraints, nor do I need to satisfy any other diners. This is no way a "special occasion" meal. Also, that my gas range oven's lowest temp is 170 degrees. My roast will sit in a 4.5 qt. Revere Ware Dutch oven. I don't own a probe thermometer, but I do have a Thermopop.

I spent about two hours yesterday reading a number of older Chowhound threads on the subject, including many posts by both Will Owens and Fourunder - two of our acknowledged authorities on the subject of roast meats.

If my studies are correct, I can go either way with this roast, so here's my roasting plan for now:

Remove from fridge 2 hours before roasting.
Wipe down the roast, rub with S&P.
Roast, uncovered at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn temp down to 225 degrees.
Roast until the pork reaches a temp of 180, then turn the oven down to 170 for the holding period.

Again, based on my reading, I'm guessing at approximate times here, while understanding that temp, not time, rules for results. Still, I'm trying to establish a start time.

For this 5 lb. roast, would 6-8 hours get it to 180? And would the holding time be 2 hours, so the roast gets to 190?

Any and all comments/suggestions welcome.

 
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  1. I'm not sure what the intent is behind the 20 minutes at 450 but the low and slow roast at 225 which is what we do for Memphis style BBQ you can figure on about 1.5 hours per pound for it to be done.

    1 Reply
    1. re: UncleMorty

      The initial high temp is to brown the meat adding flavor.

    2. A key step in the preparation is to not to forget to marinade. You can do this the evening before. There are many suggestions out there but I like to keep it simple. For ease I use a large plastic bag for the marinade and turn it several times.
      I do not use too many items, but have used white wine, orange juice, soy sauce, salt pepper, cumin, oregano, MSG, even Adobo ...All in moderation, and the cooking too and you can't miss.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PHREDDY

        Thanks for the suggestion, but at least for this initial attempt I'm going for pure pork flavor. I like the notion of citrus and Oregano in particular. Maybe next time.

      2. Your estimation on time is sound. With unknown variables to consider, it could hit temperature sooner or later, but since you don't have any time constraints, you don't have to worry about that hurdle. Giving yourself a minimum 60 minutes per pound will extend to about 5 hours if your roast doesn't hit the stall phase, but expect it to do so. At this point you can cover with foil or not. I simply wait it out for the roast to hit temperature My target would be 170 before the carryover. The closer you get to 190, the meat will start to shred and bot be has slice able... I recommend you hold for a minimum 60 minutes, but two won't hurt and can only improve. I hold inside the oven at 140, but since your lowest setting is 170, it will be fine as well. Take the roast out of the oven for 10 minutes, then put it back in. Once you have removed the roast and dropped the thermostat to 170, effectively the roast has stopped cooking and the temperature cannot increase after the carryover effect has been completed. With a thermostat setting of 225, the carryover will be 5-7 degree, not 10 from my experience. 10-15* happens with higher roasting temperatures.

        If you want to enjoy the skin crispy, consider pricking and scalding the skin with a couple of teapots of boiling water. It softens the skin first so you don't get a rock hard skin...just crispy.

        In general:

        * remove from fridge 2 hours before placing inoven

        * 6* hours in the oven

        * 1-2 hour hold.

        * you can put the roast in in the morning and have it for dinner....or you can put it in the oven before you retire for bed and have it for lunch. Either way, you can have a little more margin for error(overcooking), if you roast at 210-215, which would give you an additional hour or two.

        Here's a thread I started on Porchetta with pictures. towards the bottom is a 7 pound roast similar to your for comparison purposes so you can see what to expect. You should read the whole thread so you can know the expectations for rolled roasts and boneless roasts as well.

        If you need any further advice or clarification, just ask and good luck.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8871...

        2 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          Thank you so much for your detailed response. I especially like the note on the skin; I'd never heard of that scalding treatment.

          I think like you I will pass on the foil and let the pork do its thing, but I will adjust the target to 170 internal temperature (I do want sliceable, not pulled pork this time). At an oven holding temp of 170 also, I'll check in with the roast at the 1 hour mark.

          Just to clarify, I need to remove the roast for 10 minutes when I turn down the oven temp to 170, and then return it to the oven for the hold period. Glad you said that; I would probably have left the roast in while the oven temp adjusted otherwise.

          Going to get an early start tomorrow morning, and will report back after Sunday Dinner.

          Thanks again.

          1. re: mcsheridan

            In this specific case, I would remove the roast for 10 minutes just to ensure the roast stops cooking....if it were a larger full shoulder, then I would just turn the thermostat down and leave the roast in.

            The scalding is a Cantonese Chinese method. Many Latin recipes will boil the entire roast for up to 30 minutes.. I prefer the Chinese method.

        2. Last night I cooked a 4+lb picnic shank end (the elbow joint) in much this way. This one had a skin band all the way around.

          After about an hour at room temperature, I put it in a dutch oven (5qt) in a hot oven (about 400). After about an hour I lowered the temperature (300) and covered the pot. After about another hour and half I checked temperature and go 180+. I turned off the oven and let is sit another 20 minutes. Then I dismembered it and stored the meat in the fridge - and snacked on the meat and bones. There was about a cup of fat and juices in the pot.

          I was happy with the results. Notice I didn't even season it, and it still had good flavor (I'm trying to enjoy foods for their own flavor, without a lot of salt or other seasoning).
          I've had more tender pork, but this was fine.

          There's nothing wrong with more elaborate preparations, but this simple one works.

          2 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            Thanks much for your response; glad to hear of someone else using a Dutch Oven for roasting. So many online recommend against it.

            If I get anything near a cup of fat and juices in the pot I'll be very happy. :)

            1. re: paulj

              If you went slower you would get more tender meat.

            2. AM Update: Did I say "a small amount of skin"? Ha!

              Like many supermarket meats, this roast was packaged to show its "good" side.

              When I got the roast out of its packaging, the entire bottom was covered in skin - this is of course, a good thing, but it meant a bit more work in the pricking/scalding.

              Also, unwrapped, it spread out quite a bit, so I had to switch from Dutch Oven to a graniteware paella pan for my roasting pan. I think it'll be fine.

               
               
              1. PM RESULTS: checked temp @ 5 hr. mark - one muscle read 150, another 155. 160 @ 6 hr. mark. 163-168 @ 7 hr. mark. 170-178 @ 7.5 hr. Mark. Yikes! pulled it immediately, dropped the oven temp to 170; after 10 minutes, returned roast to oven. Held for 1 hr. only based on pull temp.

                First pic shows roast at pull, the rest after hold.

                Some muscles moist, others bone-dry - all tasty. Admittedly, my dinner carvings were off the front end of the roast; when I cut for the leftovers, the meat under the fat cap was very moist indeed, except one muscle.

                Still, I guess you can't get perfection on the first go-round. I'm thinking I should have pulled it @ 7 hrs.

                 
                 
                 
                2 Replies
                1. re: mcsheridan

                  You know what....you recorded the progress and now you know which temperature you prefer. The 6-7 hour mark was probably the right choice...For my tastes, going over 180 is too much unless you are going to dress it with oil or sauce...As for those who say the connective tissue needs to go higher, I would disagree. It's sufficiently melted above 170 and under 180 to be enjoyable....and like you have found out, above 180-190 it can become dry.

                  I rarely use a thermometer for Picnic Shoulder Roast. In your first and second pictures of the roast, you can see how the meat has shrunk from the ends of the bones. This is when I know the meat is done and you can do a simple pull or tug on the meat to see if it comes off. If so, it's done..

                  Thanks for sharing.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    And thank you for your advice and instruction.