What Are the Best Tips for Cooking Pork Shoulder?

Amber Eberle
Amber Eberle
Pork meat can be marinated before cooking to add to the taste.
Pork meat can be marinated before cooking to add to the taste.

Pork shoulder is a popular cut of meat, especially in barbecue dishes. It can be tough if not prepared properly, however. The best methods for cooking pork shoulder typically use low heat and a long cooking time. Common ways of preparing it include roasting, smoking, grilling, or slow cooking, as in using a Crock-Pot®. A pork shoulder can be seasoned or marinated before cooking to add flavor and to tenderize it.

Pork is often rubbed with apple cider vinegar, which helps tenderize the meat.
Pork is often rubbed with apple cider vinegar, which helps tenderize the meat.

This cut is usually covered by a layer of fat which should be left on during cooking to ensure that the meat is tender and juicy. Before cooking pork shoulder it can be marinated or seasoned. If marinating, the best flavor will come by allowing the meat to soak overnight. A dry rub can also be applied to the outside of the pork shoulder. Some people choose to mix the dry rub spices with a liquid, such as apple cider vinegar, and then inject the mixture into the pork.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the pork is cooked to the proper temperature.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the pork is cooked to the proper temperature.

Before cooking a pork shoulder, the meat should be taken out of the refrigerator at least an hour in advance in order to bring it to room temperature. A meat thermometer is usually used to ensure that the pork reaches the proper temperature. To keep a pork shoulder moist, it should be basted or sprayed with a liquid, such as apple juice or apple cider vinegar, during cooking which can be done with a brush or a spray bottle.

Smoking, grilling, roasting, and slow cooking are all good methods for cooking pork shoulder. The key to cooking pork shoulder so it is tender is using low heat and several hours of cooking time. Most recipes call for a cooking temperature between 240 and 280°F (115 to 138°C). These temperatures usually require 1.5 to 2 hours of cooking per pound of pork to ensure it is fully cooked.

It is important to check the internal temperature of the pork shoulder to know when it is ready to eat. A pork should can be served sliced when it reaches 170°F (77°C). When one reaches 195°F (91°C), the pork should be tender enough to pull apart. For best results, the meat should rest for 15 to 20 minutes after cooking.

When cooking pork shoulder, cooks should remember that its yield is usually around 60% of the raw weight, after all of the fat is rendered. This cut is commonly served pulled apart and mixed with barbecue sauce. Many people also enjoy it sliced with gravy.

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Discussion Comments

Cageybird

If I'm going to make good pulled pork sandwiches, I prefer to use pork shoulder. It has enough fat to make the meat juicy, but not enough to make it too greasy. Other people may use a Boston Butt pork roast for their barbecue, but I think the final result can be a little too fatty for my taste. Pork shoulder may cost a little more in the grocery store, but it's also leaner and more flavorful than Boston Butt, at least in my opinion.

Inaventu

I live in a state where barbecue is very popular, and when they talk about "low and slow" cooking, they mean it. The better barbecue restaurants will season pork shoulders the day before cooking, then put them in a smoker for a few hours to get even more flavor. The last stop is an oven set between 200 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The pork shoulders could stay in that oven for at least 5 to 6 hours. The meat will practically fall apart by the end of cooking time.

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    • Pork meat can be marinated before cooking to add to the taste.
      By: ping han
      Pork meat can be marinated before cooking to add to the taste.
    • Pork is often rubbed with apple cider vinegar, which helps tenderize the meat.
      By: rimglow
      Pork is often rubbed with apple cider vinegar, which helps tenderize the meat.
    • Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the pork is cooked to the proper temperature.
      By: Werg
      Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the pork is cooked to the proper temperature.