Monday, July 18, 2011

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

This one makes a good base for a weekend meal. You know, on those Saturdays when you're doing everything and nothing, spending all day outdoors because you have to do yard work, mow the lawn... rake leaves.

If you just plan ahead a little you have dinner taken care of (instead of 'oh-no-it's-6PM-and-I-haven't-thought-about-dinner-and-now-I-haven't-a-clue-what-to-do-and-the-natives-are-restless').

It'll roast all day at a low heat.
And if it's roasted nice and slow, long and low, it'll just fall apart. That wouldn't happen if you needed dinner in a rush.
This meat won't cut in nice neat little slices. Instead it shreds very easily with a fork.
Perfect for tacos carnitas (maybe with fajita-style onions and peppers, some fresh cilantro, and tomatillo salsa).
I'm sure you could add BBQ sauce and make some pulled pork sandwiches...

The meat WILL have fat. You can trim some of it, but don't trim it all. Because the meat cooks a long time, it has the potential to dry out- the extra fat helps to keep it moist. Besides, much of it will melt off anyway.

Oh! And this is an instance where I would recommend using a disposable pan (especially if you use the grill). Honestly, it's a mess.

Slow Roasted Pork
makes a lot

7-8 lb. pork shoulder or boston butt, bone removed (ask the butcher- it's his job)

2 t fennel seeds
1 1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t coriander seeds
1 1/2 t black peppercorns
1 T finely ground coffee
1 1/2 t cocoa powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground cumin
1 t dried oregano

2 lb yellow onions
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 t kosher salt

6 garlic cloves, minced
3 T minced fresh rosemary
Kosher salt
Olive oil

3 carrots
2 ribs of celery, each cut in half crossways

The day before you plan to cook:
In a dry pan over medium heat combine the fennel, coriander, black peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes, tossing occasionally, until the spices color a bit and they release their toasty scent ("fumes" in the case of red pepper). Let cool.
Pulverize the spices along with the oregano in a mortar and pestle or with a spice grinder. Combine the spices in a small bowl with the coffee, cocoa, cumin, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Slice the onions in half and then slice each half into thin half-moons. Place the onions in a pan that has been preheated over medium heat with 3 T olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 t Kosher salt and saute the onions until they become translucent and a little golden (this will take several minutes). Set aside to cool.
With a sharp knife, score the top (fatty side) of the pork in 1 inch intervals and about 1/4 inch deep. Repeat the same cuts perpendicular to the first set of cuts so the pork is crosshatched on top.
Cut the pork shoulder lengthwise (starting where the butcher ended) so that it opens like a book. Be careful not to cut all the way across so you end up with two pieces of meat
Liberally sprinkle the inside of the "open" piece of meat with kosher salt.
In a small bowl combine half of the garlic and rosemary, 2 T of the spice rub, and 2-3 T olive oil to make a paste. Smear the paste over the salted pork and top with the now-cooled onions. "Close" the pork up over the onions and tie several times with kitchen twine so the onions stay sandwiched inside the meat. Liberally salt the meat all over the outside.
Mix the remaining garlic and rosemary, spice rub, and enough olive oil to once again form a paste. Rub the paste all over the outside of the pork. Place the carrots and celery in the bottom of a roasting pan to make a rack (the pan must be large enough to hold the pork). Lay the pork in the pan on top of the vegetables. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven or a grill (with a thermometer) to 275 degrees F.
Place the meat in the oven or grill and cook for about 3 hours, then remove the aluminum foil (set the foil aside for later use). Continue cooking for about 4 hours more, or until the meat is tender and falls apart when speared with a fork.
Remove the pork from the heat, cover with foil, and let rest 30 minutes.
Move the pork from the pan and onto a large cutting board or sheet pan. Shred the meat with two forks and mix so that the spices, bits of onion, and salt are distributed throughout.
Add BBQ sauce, eat with rice, or in a taco.


  1. When did you do this for us? I can't remember. It looks so very delicious.

  2. In the picture with the tortilla, what else is on it besides the meat? That looks really yummy too. Thanks!

  3. Anonymous:
    I don't think you've had it.

    Peklet Mom:
    Besides the meat, there are onions and peppers, cilantro, and tomatillo salsa.

    We actually made pulled pork BBQ sandwiches (and tacos for those that preferred corn tortillas to the bread) with some of the meat, and they turned out really well.