I am not a great cook. In fact, I would rate myself an only slightly better than average cook, giving myself a slight edge only because I love to cook. I am a foodie. I love all things food, based not just on taste, but what it looks like, how it smells – even how it feels in my mouth. For me, eating is an all-sensory event.
Fortunately, my beloved is a willing guinea pig and has been to the top of the mountain and the depths of hell with my cooking escapades. Even in hell, the worst he’s ever uttered to me is “it’s not your best…”. So in his honor, I am sharing what I think is his favorite recipe. It is also one I love for two reasons: It is super simple and it never fails. It also can serve a big crowd and everyone LOVES it.
As a kid, I loved pork. That was before they crafted pork to be “the other white meat”. I don’t like white meat. So besides ribs, cured pork (bacon, sausage, bacon, country ham, did I mention bacon?) and maybe every couple of years what my children called “pink” ham, I just didn’t cook pork often because frankly, it just wasn’t good.
Then I ran across a recipe online that included a picture that caught my eye that actually had me drooling…really. Some brilliant soul had taken a pork shoulder, aka Boston butt, and instead of throwing it into a smoker or crockpot and calling it BBQ, gave it the respect that is usually afforded only a fine cut of beef and roasted it in the oven like a proper roast. The results were AMAZING. But because it is not a fine cut of beef, some extra consideration must be given. The shoulder of the pig is a joint—thus it includes bone and connective tissue that can be tricky to deal with. For this reason, it must be roasted long and under a low temp to allow that gristly tissue to break down and when this happens, it becomes a gorgeous gooey jelly that seeps into the surrounding meat, making it super moist and tender, falling apart easier than a celebrity marriage.
This version I am offering is a combination of two recipes that I have tried. I cannot take credit for the creation of this recipe independently, so give thanks to Serious Eats and Paleomom.
- 1 – Pork shoulder, 8-12 lbs.
- Kosher salt
The night before you wish to serve the pork, place roast on a large baking pan and liberally sprinkle kosher salt and pepper all over. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Remove roast from fridge 1-2 hours prior to roasting to allow meat to come to (or nearly to) room temperature. Prepare pan for roasting by lining a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, placing a metal rack on top (I use a metal cooling rack. Put a large piece of parchment paper over rack** and place pork on top.
Preheat oven to 225° and move oven rack to lower third of oven. Put roast in oven for at least 8 hours or until fork meets little resistance when twisted in roast. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Using two large forks, pull pork apart into chunks—or allow guests to pull their own from the table.
**This is an important step when it comes time to clean p. That beautiful, gooey jelly described above will slow bake on the rack and become a permanent gunk on said rack if not covered with parchment paper.