Are you acquainted with pork shoulder? No? Well then you're in the right place.
Cause if you do a smidgen of planning and pop this lovely hunk of meat into the oven or crock-pot early on in the day, by supper time you'll have a juicy, tender and flavorful meal with LOADS of leftovers.
This is perfect for the busy holidays, when you have errands to run and obligations to fulfill. Wouldn't you rather roast a large cut of meat for Sunday or Monday dinner then divvy out the remaining portions to use in multiple recipes throughout the week?
That's what I did a week ago and since then I've used the pork to make the following:
- cold and hot sandwiches
- carnitas tacos
- scrambled eggs
- pork stir-fry with lentils, brown rice and fresh veggies
- roasted pork, sausage and veggie soup
However, if you're looking for additional ideas, try:
- BBQ pulled pork sandwiches
- Pot Pies
- Pasta (Mac & Cheese, Butter Sauces, Tomato Sauces, etc.)
- Stuffed Peppers (Chile or Bell)
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
That said, cooking a pork shoulder—no matter which method you choose—is an easy, inexpensive way to feed yourself and/or family for damn near a whole week. The larger the piece, the more meat it will yield, so keep that in mind. Many recipes call for a 3-4 pound shoulder, but if you want to use the meat all week long, choose a 8-9 pound cut.
Other things to keep in mind are the price per pound, the specific cut and whether it is bone-in or boneless. Keep an eye out for sales at your local market.
The specific cut I chose was a pork shoulder arm roast. I've used a Boston butt before, as well. Either way, I don't pretend to be a meat expert, so if you'd like to learn more about different cuts, check out this site.
As for bone-in versus boneless, using a bone-in cut cooks the meat faster since the bone's exposed to the oven, but also tucked inside the meat, causing it to cook faster on the inside. That means a shorter cooking time, (which I prefer).
Plus, if you're like me, you can save the large roasted bone with tidbits stuck to it for making meat stock or pork soup.
Method 1: Crock-Pot Pork Shoulder
Serves: 4-6+ (depends on weight & if it's boneless)
4 lb bone-in pork shoulder (try to use antibiotic free, humanely raised if possible)
Splash of your favorite cooking oil (get my favorite brand of EVOO here)
1 1/2-2 tablespoons bacon grease (optional)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 can (4 oz) roasted green chiles, undrained (learn how to roast your own)
1/2 cup low-sodium homemade chicken or meat stock
1 lime, juice only
1/4 cup of orange juice (optional)
Spice Rub, mixed (see recipe below)
—add one heaping teaspoon of each of the following ingredients and mix together—
sea salt (I recommend Pink Himalayan, Celtic or Utah sourced salt)
organic raw sugar
ground cinnamon (optional)
rimmed baking sheet or very large bowl (for shredding)
Pull the pork shoulder out of the fridge, unwrap, rinse off, then pat dry. Turn your slow-cooker on low. Add a splash of the cooking oil and the bacon grease (optional). While that is melting, peel and dice the garlic and onion, then add to the crock-pot, along with the can of hatch chiles (undrained). Combine all the spices together in a bowl. Cut the pork shoulder into two equal sized pieces (avoid the bone) and rub both pieces all over with the spice mixture. Place the pork fat side up into the crock-pot. Pour in the chicken broth, making sure not to pour directly on the pork (you don't want to wash off the spices). Cut a lime in half, squeeze the juice from both halves into the slow-cooker, then add the orange juice. Place the lid on the crock-pot and only lift it off occasionally to readjust and baste the pork. Either cook on low for 6-8 hours, on high 3-4 hours or until the pork is fully cooked through, falling off the bone and easily shreddable. Make sure to check it every few hours if it's on high. Some crock-pots cook faster than others. When it's done, remove from the juices, shred the pork, then place back into crock-pot to keep the meat moist. Alternately, you can remove it from the slow-cooker and pour some of the juice onto the meat.
Method 2: Slow-Cooked Oven-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Serves: 8-10+ (depends on weight & if it's boneless)
rimmed baking sheet
Start with a larger bone-in pork shoulder cut (7.5-8 lbs) and use the same ingredients and techniques listed above in the crock-pot pork shoulder recipe, except place everything into a foil-lined roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet, then into an oven that's been preheated to 325 degrees.
Tent the whole pan tightly with foil and bake for 4 1/2+ hours, or until the pork's fully cooked through (has reached an internal temperature of AT LEAST 190 degrees), is easily shreddable and the bone pulls away easily. At 4 1/2 hours, my 8 1/2 lb pork roast was 200 degrees internally. If desired, uncover the pork half-way through the cooking time to baste with its juices.
If you choose to oven-roast a smaller cut (3-4 lbs), check it around 2 hours into the cooking time. Having a meat thermometer is really helpful.
If you'd like to cook it even slower and lower, try 300 degrees, but adjust the cooking time accordingly.
|You can see that I used a large, rimmed cookie sheet this time. I use this thing for roasting all kinds of stuff on a weekly basis.|
Use whatever blend of seasonings you like or cut it down to only a few to let the pork really shine through.
Having tested both recipes, I prefer the slow cooker method because more of the pork is submerged in the juice, which causes it to absorb even more flavor.
If you have the time and foresight, prep the pork by washing, drying, then making large slits or sockets all over the shoulder with a sharp knife. Rub the spices across the outside and inside the slits/sockets, wrap it tightly in plastic, then let it marinate in the fridge for 12-4 hours. This will give the pork shoulder a lot more of the spice flavor if you're slow cooking it in the oven.
Question for Discussion: What's your favorite economical cut of meat to slow-roast?
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