Recipe: Pork Shoulder Roast
This week, we asked Jeremy Stanton, owner of The Meat Market in Great Barrington, if we could borrow one of his recipes. It looked like just the thing you’d want to serve at a big holiday dinner, and if anyone knows how to prepare a pork shoulder roast, it would be Jeremy, who also owns Fire Roasted Catering.
I thought I’d fill you in on a great, super easy way to roast pork shoulder. Generally considered a braising cut, the shoulder has, in this writer’s opinion, the finest quality pork in the whole animal: the meat is richly marbled, savory and sweet, and the fat — which surrounds the meat in unctuous rivers — is round, rich, and forgiving. Pork shoulder generally comes in two sections: the lower half or ‘picnic,’ which is comprised of the short rib bones; the brisket section and the beginning of the forefoot; and the upper half, collar or ‘butt,’ which is comprised of the spinal muscles and the beginning of the neck. The pork butt is the finer of the two sections, and recommended for the following recipe. This recipe is incredibly easy, and requires little skill other than patience.
4 lbs. pork butt, skinless (boneless is up to you: bones make for potentially easier cooking, but more knife-work when serving)
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic and a handful of herbs of your choice, preferably fresh (I used parsley and sage)
Grapeseed oil (olive also works, but grapeseed has a higher smoke point)
Foil, thermometer, roasting dish, frying pan
How To Do It:
Mince your garlic, chop your herbs, and combine with salt, pepper, and oil in a bowl. Rub your mixture all over the pork butt. Let sit until pork is at room temperature, if you took it out of the fridge. The longer it sits, the better.
Place pork butt in an oven-ready dish, cover with foil, and place in oven at 300 F. Check the pork at 2 hours with your thermometer. If it’s at 180 degrees internally, lower the oven to 200 F and keep it in for another hour. If not, keep the same temperature.
When the pork is fork-tender, remove pork from the dish, and pour out the collected juices, which can be saved to make a wonderful reduction or mixed into soups, sauces, or salsas.
Heat a pan on the range (you can also turn your oven up to 450 F, but I think the pan provides a nicer crusting effect) and, when hot, fry the pork for about 4 minutes per side. Be careful, as the oil will sizzle considerably.
Once your crust is as you like, remove and let sit at least five minutes before serving.
That’s it! Now, the lower the temperature the oven, the better the pork will be, but the longer it will take. I recommend starting with 300 F because it will keep the cooking time relatively short (about 3.5 hours, all told), but if you have an afternoon to kill, keep the oven at 250 and you’ll have an even more tender treat!