Sunday, January 4, 2015

A (Pork) Shoulder to Lean On

Dear Reader,

This past week and half has sped by so quickly. The holiday season is now over and I feel as if I never really got in the spirit, and now, it's too late. Our Christmas tree has been taken down, ornaments put away, and all of the holiday festivities are over. I always get a little blue from January - April, since these are the hibernating months in NYC. When winter really sets in and snow storms pass through overnight. When it's so cold that going out for a quick walk is just out of the question. The good news is that these are the perfect months for hearty stews and meats, roasted vegetables and even more dinner parties since going from house to house sounds so much nicer than going from venue to venue in the bitter cold.

Braised Pork Shoulder Goodness
Today, E and I decided to have a lazy day (these come all too often) and stay in instead of running much needed errands. We put on two pots of coffee, watched Sons of Anarchy and snuggled. Since we were staying in all day I decided to braise some pork shoulder in the oven, as inspired by a friend of mine when we visited her house. I've been trying to think of more dishes that could be made in bulk and saved for lunches and leftovers and affordable protein is always a plus. Pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) is relatively cheap at about $1.50-$2.00 per pound. For a healthier option, you can purchase pork shoulder raised without antibiotics for about $4.00-$4.99 per pound and still make a large amount without breaking the bank.

Braised pork shoulder is great because the actual prep time is very minimal, it's cheap, it can last for a long time, it's versatile and it's very difficult to mess up. I researched a few recipes and ended up making my own, but really, almost anything goes. This recipe is meant to be a guide, feel free to substitute with whatever you think will work. The Kitchn has a great post on the different ways to cook and use pork shoulder.

Braised Pork Shoulder
Makes 8 servings

Dry Rub
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp pepper
2 tbsp of dark brown sugar (if you don't have, use regular sugar or honey)
1 tbsp of paprika (I used smoked paprika from Trader Joe's)
1.5 tbsp of ground cumin
.5 tbsp cayenne pepper (this gives it an extra kick)
4lb of pork shoulder
1 tbsp of oil

3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 cups of water
2 tbsp of ketchup or worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, chopped into medium pieces
4 cloves of garlic, smashed

You will need a dutch oven for this recipe. Mix all of the dry rub ingredients into a mixing bowl and then season the pork thoroughly. If you have time, marinate the pork for up to 2 hours - I ended up marinating for only 1 hour in the fridge and it was fine. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Turn the heat on the stove to medium to high heat and pour in the oil (I used olive oil). Coat the bottom of the dutch over and when it gets hot enough, lay the pork shoulder into the pan and brown the outside to get a bit of a crust and render the fat. While you are searing, chop the onion and smash the garlic. Once the pork is lightly seared, add in all of the liquid ingredients including the onion and garlic, mix lightly and cover the dutch over with the lid. Place the dutch oven into the oven for 4 hours minimum. About halfway through, I turned the pork over.

You will know when the pork shoulder is ready when the meat pulls away very easily with a fork. Once it's done, you can start pulling the pieces into shreds in the pot with a fork and mixing it into the liquid. I recommend pulling out the fat with your tongs and discarding. I made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with Kansas style BBQ sauce and a simple cole slaw, but there are a ton of different uses for the pork (tacos, enchiladas, salads, cuban sandwiches, in a ragu sauce, etc.). Pulled pork can last for 3 months in the freezer so if you have any leftovers, you can divide into 1 cup portions and individually wrap for future meals.

E loved the pork and ate 3 large sandwiches in one sitting! He also ate a ton of coleslaw (which was just shredded cabbage, red wine vinegar and olive oil) which was a huge score for me because I love adding cruciferous veggies into our meals. This pork was so good and so easy that I am definitely adding it to our go to meal list. Bon appetite!


  1. I just bought some pork shoulder for ramen broth and saved half. I'm gonna try this next!

  2. I just bought some pork shoulder for ramen broth and saved half. I'm gonna try this next!