Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork ShoulderEach Christmas, we try to make something extra special to serve for Christmas Day. It’s usually a pretty informal affair; I try to make something that can sit all day, served alongside a simple salad and the other amazing DIY food presents we received from friends and family, so that anyone that drops by to help us with our holly-jollies can have a bite to eat. Last year, we rolled a pork loin in a huge piece of pork belly to make our own porchetta for Christmas dinner. The year before that, it was a standing rib roast with dijon creme fraiche. But nothing we have made for Christmas dinner (and I stress “NOTHING!”) compares to this recipe for slow-cooked pork shoulder, the inexpensive cut of meat rendered spoon-tender while the skin puffs and inflates to make the finished product more like a blissfully tender and moist pork roast topped with a thick layer of deep-fried chicarron.

For such impressive, foolproof results, the technique couldn’t be simpler. Find an 8-1o pound skin-on pork shoulder (often referred to as a “picnic roast” here in Maine), and rub it all over with salt and pepper. Cooking it in a 250 degree oven for eight hours allows all of the connective collagen in the hard-working pig’s shoulder to break down into gelatin, resulting in an almost otherworldly tenderness, while retaining as much moisture as possible.

This slow-and-low treatment doesn’t do the skin any favors, however, leaving it tough and almost inedibly chewy. Fixing that requires nothing but some extra heat. After letting the roast finish cooking, we take it out of the oven to rest while we bring the oven up to 500 degrees. A blast at this high heat causes all of the tiny pockets in the skin to fill with steam from the meat underneath so that it inflates, turning light, crunchy, and a beautiful golden brown, with a layer of succulent fat underneath.

The resulting roast can be picked apart with your bare hands, dipped into sauce and eaten as-is, or pulled and chopped to make into sandwiches. Encourage your guests to combine a little lean meat, a little fat, and a few bits of crunchy skin onto a Portuguese roll. The combination of textures and temperatures is stunningly delicious. For good measure, top your sandwich with a bit of homemade chimichurri.

Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Adapted from a recipe by Serious Eats; Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder, 8 to 10 pounds (sometimes called a “Picnic Cut” in the Northeast)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crusty rolls, chimichurri, or barbecue sauce (optional)

Method:

Move oven rack to middle position, and preheat oven to 250.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and set a wire rack inside it. Season pork on all sides with salt and pepper (or whatever you’d like), and place on wire rack. Transfer to oven and roast until pork shows very little resistance to a fork, about eight hours.

Remove pork from oven and tent with foil. Allow the pork to rest for at least 15 minutes, although the pork can be held at this stage until just before you are ready to serve, up to several hours. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees, and allow to preheat. Remove foil and return pork to oven. Roast until skin is very blistered and puffy, rotating every 5 minutes, about 20 minutes total. Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest an additional 15 minutes.

To serve, either bring the roast to the table as-is and let your guests pick at it themselves to dip in accompanying sauces, or chop in the kitchen and serve bits of meat, fat, and crispy skin on Portuguese rolls.

Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Comments

  1. says

    Oh my goodness gracious. Simple and delicious? With crispy skin? Where have you been all my life.

    I’ll have to share my No-brainer duck confit recipe with you in exchange. Thank you.

  2. Mara says

    In Puerto Rico, we call this pernil. One thing we do is we poke holes in the meat and stuff it with a mixture of garlic, olive oil, vinegar and spices. Infuses the meat with flavor from inside to out. So GOOD!

  3. Dianna says

    Can this technique be used with other cuts of pork? Or does it need a fat cap? I love pork but tend to gravitate toward the darker meat sections that seem much more flavorful, tender and juicy to me. I saw a recipe recently for a beef roast cooked at a very low temp for a very long period of time. I tried it and it was more evenly medium rare throughout the roast which was great but it lacked a great “crust” since you weren’t supposed to brown it before cooking. You seem to have solved that dilemma, at least for a pork roast! Can’t wait to try it!!!

    That picture is killer, too! Since I am a very visual person, it was a deal cincher…lol!

  4. says

    Tried this today/tonight…The crispy skin came out as advertised. But 8 hours were nowhere near enough at 250 to render the entire pork shoulder spoon-tender. That which was tender was delicious. The rest is back in the oven for another 4 hours at 300.

  5. Deb says

    Made this over the weekend. It was fabulous. We served it as part of a buffet for an informal get together. I cannot remember ever getting such a big payoff taste wise for so little effort. Will definitely make again.

  6. Jenn says

    My husband is from Germany (Bavaria) and I’ve tried SO MANY times to replicate the traditional pork shoulder – Schäuferla – and never knew the right cut to purchase. This dish is one of the most delicious things you will ever eat. Most Germans I know (the younger ‘folk) discard the skin/fat before eating but it’s value for flavor is essential! I was always wondering what cut to get in the US and was always missing the skin!!! Thank you for the great recipe.

    If anyone is interested in the seasoning for the German way check out this site:
    http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com/schweinebraten-an-authentic-bavarian-pork-roast/

    The Bavarians also do this cooking technique using a pork knuckle (ham hock/) but when I tried, I think the ones I found at the grocery store were no where as big as necessary. Also I think I skipped the ‘cracklin’ step.

    Thanks again! I’m eager to try one more time!
    ~Jenn

  7. Buffy Foster says

    Made this yesterday for the 4th…easily the simplest, yet most delicious things we’ve ever had for a “picnic.” I bought a 10 +lb picnic roast at Wal-mart, for less than $10. No joke. (that’s the only store that I’ve ever seen that cut). I bought one before for carnitas, and had no clue what i was getting into- trying to break it down and get through the skin was difficult. This recipe is the solution for that! I did leave it in the oven for 9 hours, and to be honest, another hour or 2 wouldn’t have hurt since it was so big. It was still out of this world. We made some chimichurri, and I also had some pickled onions and jalapeños from a mop sauce from the week prior…the acid of both were perfect with the pork, which obviously is super rich.
    This is definitely going into the favorites file for big gatherings. We fed 6 people last night, and I think we have enough leftover for 20 more. Not complaining one bit, though. ;)

    • Malcolm Bedell says

      So glad to hear it worked out! This recipe truly is the gift that keeps on giving. It may have even replaced smoked pork shoulder as my go-to for big gatherings.

  8. Buffy Foster says

    Malcolm, I feel compelled to comment one more time. I made 2 of these for a gathering of 30 or so last weekend. People were freaking out about how great it was. We have lots of get togethers, and this was hands-down the crowd-pleasing winner, over beef tenderloins, rib toasts, you name it. Thank you, once again! We’re heading northeast for our annual New England trekk here in a week or so, and will also be following your advice on good eats. Cheers!

    • Malcolm Bedell says

      Thank you so much! It’s so great to hear someone loves this recipe as much as we do. We have a party planned for Labor Day, and I honestly can’t decide whether to fire up the smoker, or just do my pork shoulders in the oven.

  9. Kristi says

    Hi, I know it’s been a while since the last comments, but I just recently found this post when I was looking for recipes for this cut. They’re often on sale very cheap where I live but I was never brave enough to try cooking one until I found this recipe. I’m trying it today, but when I got the meat out of the package, I suddenly realized, skin side up or down?? Or does it matter? If anyone sees this today, an answer would be great! Thanks!

  10. Lisa says

    This may sound silly but just tonight a friend gave me a pork roast she had put in a 200 degree oven, uncovered, @ 8 a.m. this morning and didn’t take it out until 7 p.m. tonight! I was very appreciative but went right home and stuck a meat thermometer and it only registered 110 degrees and to me is a pinkish brown color. I’m not familiar with this type of low/slow cooking and am worried that it might not be fully cooked, even after hours of cooking. Any comments?!

  11. Tyler says

    I am in the midst of trying this method. And the skin on top turned black. It’s still soft, just black. I am still going to try and make it crispy. I’ll follow up when I am done. Does to oven at 500 need to be set on broil? I have never cooked anything other than a turkey at 500.

  12. Jean says

    I made this for our New Years Day dinner this year as it’s considered good luck. So is sauerkraut and I made that too. This was the most fabulous pork I’ve ever had and my family went nuts over it! I’m making it tomm for our Daytona 500 race day party…GO JUNIOR!!

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