24 January 2013

Slow-roasting a pork shoulder

I went across the river to Intermarché and bought a big piece of a hog yesterday. C'est une épaule de porc — the whole shoulder, bone-in, skin-on, and it weighs 15 lbs., or nearly 7 kilograms. I'm going to roast it today, and when I say today I mean all day long. It just barely fits in the oven.

 Here's the 15 lb. pork shoulder with a coffee mug in the picture for scale.

The price was good — at €1.95/kg, that makes it about US$1.18/lb at the current exchange rate. In other words, pork shoulder cost €13.38, the equivalent of US$17.82. The butcher at Intermarché told me I got the last one he had. I was happy, because so often he has sold out of the advertised specials by the time I get there.

I sprinkled both sides of the shoulder liberally with salt, black pepper,
smoked paprika, and piment pour harissa (hot red chilli powder).

What will I do with all that pork? I'll "pull" it to make "pulled-pork barbecue." After it cooks for 10 hours or so in a slow oven — just over 100ºC or at most 220ºF — I'll turn the oven up to high and let the roast brown a little, to give it good color and crispiness on the outside. Then I'll let it cool down before shredding the meat by pulling it apart with a couple of forks or my fingers. Finally, I'll season it with a vinegar-based sauce.

The pork shoulder just barely fit in our oven, where it will cook slowly for 10 hours.

I've never done this before. I've made pulled pork, pulled turkey, and even pulled lamb, but never on this scale. I'll be interested to see how many pounds of actual "barbecue" or meat the shoulder will yield. Luckily, pork barbecued this way freezes well and takes up minimal space in the freezer.


  1. Looks like you've got some good dripping coming, too.
    Our oven is 42cm wide inside... is that about the size of yours?
    If so, I might try this...

  2. Just measured the oven. The usable width is 43 cm.

  3. Thanks Ken... I'll keep a lookout for further offers...
    up until now I've re-butchered things like this...
    never occured to me to do a long, slow cook...
    don't really know why...
    after all, that's all that a hog roast is...
    for a big beast, they start the previous day!!

  4. You are making me homesick for some Eastern NC BBQ!

  5. Have fun experimenting with that 15 pounder.
    Maybe you can have some friends over to sample your efforts. Enjoy!

  6. Wow! That's some big pork shoulder! I'll be interested to see the pile of pulled pork you end up with. (Good way to keep the house warm, eh?)

  7. Yes, Judy, keeping the house warm was one consideration. And then the idea of having batches of Eastern NC BBQ to eat over the next couple of months... And it's just fun to try these things. Not a big investment of money, even if it's time-consuming.

  8. Hi Margaret, I miss that BBQ too, and I try to make it here as best I can. I'll be going to Morehead in April... and Goldsboro for Wilber's BBQ.

  9. Tim, I thought I might have to re-butcher the pork shoulder and I was happy when I saw that it would fit in the oven. It's been in there for 5½ hrs. now.

  10. I smell carnitas in your future!

  11. I made one of these Monday. It was over eleven pounds. I make tacos with it. Hope yours comes out good!

  12. Hi Lynn, hope you and Joel and the girls are healthy and happy. Carnitas or Eastern NC barbecue -- well both -- are definitely in our future. Are you coming to France this year?

  13. I've missed your cooking, Ken! I hate to inform the rest of you that I've 'had' to be in L.A. for training in that 80 degree F. weather last week and part of this week! The sun felt sooooo good!

    Quite a project, indeed! Pulled pork for a lot of cold dark days sounds wonderful.Not to mention, keeping the home warm.

    We're having totally cloudy and cold days here in Oregon.

  14. Hi Mary, You and Nadège both in that LA warmth -- incroyable. Glad you too enjoyed it. We are making do, as you are in Oregon.

  15. That is a big piece of meat!


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