Monday, March 14, 2011

Project Pork: The Shoulder

It's been a while since my last Project Pork post! I learned a lot from that experience and I feel a lot more confident in my ability to cook a large hunk of beast flesh. Plus, my sister gave me a probe thermometer for Chrismukkah (my family's blended winter holiday), which helps ease my worries about under/overcooking - I can just set my desired cooking temperature and the thermometer alarm will go off when the meat reaches that temperature. I am still learning about the best place to put the thermometer though, there can be some big variations in temperature especially in cuts like this that have a bone through them.

For this pork shoulder I decided to go with a simple Mark Bittman recipe for classic Puerto Rican pernil. It involves making a paste of onion, garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, and a couple of spices - I used cumin, paprika and chili powder. You just rub the meat with the paste, let it sit for up to 24 hours, and then roast at a low temperature for several hours.
It took about 3.5 hours for this 4-lb shoulder to reach a "safe" temperature of 160F. The savory garlic-herb smell in my apartment was almost unbearable at this point. 

We definitely cut off a few bites and ate them as-is (with plenty of finger-licking), then mixed another portion with barbecue sauce and made some simple tacos with corn tortillas, spinach and plain Greek yogurt.

We have so much leftover pork! We're planning to make an almond butter satay sauce (due to peanut allergies) for tonight's leftovers, and maybe make put some of the rest of it on a pizza, with apples and cheddar. I love how the flavor of the garlic-spice rub is so versatile!

Puerto-Rican Style Roasted Pork Shoulder
Adapted from Mark Bittman

1 4-to-7-pound pork shoulder

4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cut off excess (but not all) fat from the meat.
Put all of the remaining ingredients (garlic through olive oil) in a food processor or blender and puree for about 10 seconds. Rub the mixture all over the meat, be generous. Place the meat on a rack on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight up to 24 hours.
Heat oven to 325F and place meat in a roasting pan. Roast, turning every hour or so until it reaches 160F. Let rest about 15 minutes before cutting into chunks.

Here are some other pork shoulder recipes that look fantastic:

Beer-braised in a dutch oven at The Kitchn

A wintry recipe with fennel and orange at Leite's Culinaria

And the Pork Queen has an entire blog devoted to pork shoulder!


  1. Oh my, this looks divine! Unfortunately my husband doesn't eat pork so I never get to make this sort of thing!

  2. It can be tough to work with different dietary restrictions. My guy is allergic to peanuts, which makes me sad for him, but it has encouraged me to use more almonds and cashews, which is fun.


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