Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder

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C’mon. Let’s do some magic tricks in the kitchen. We’ll start by making a feast that’s fit for a king�for practically pennies. All you need is a sharp knife, a few hours, and a roomful of friends to feed.

This pork shoulder is butterflied, rubbed with olive oil, garlic, and herbs, then slow roasted�a method that transforms this relatively cheap, tough piece of meat into something moist, tender, and downright sublime.

Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder: A feast on a budget

These days, I don’t know many folks who aren’t pinching at least a few pennies. Roast pork shoulder is a great way to feed a crowd on a budget. My roast was less than $8 for about 7.5 lbs. of meat. Granted, some of that weight was bone, but not too much.

Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder: The basic technique

First, remove the bone from your pork shoulder, then butterfly it. Rub the meat with a mixture of fresh garlic, herbs, and olive oil. Truss it up, blast it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, then drop the heat to 300 degrees and slow-roast it for about 3 hours.

The result is mouthwateringly tender and flavorful.

The inspiration for this dish comes from this month’s Food & Wine magazine, which has a great article on food and wine pairings done by sommeliers.

It’s a riff on the garlic-rubbed pork shoulder (page 178) made by Andrew Green, the wine director for the Bacchus Management Group. I followed his basic technique for roasting, with some changes (I used different herbs, trussed my roast, roasted it a little longer, etc.).

I’ve cooked many a pork shoulder, but I usually either braise them, or roast them then shred the meat apart for pulled pork. (To turn this roast into pulled pork, roast it for another hour or two, until it comes apart easily.)

Buying pork shoulder: What to look for at the market

So what’s a pork shoulder, anyway?

Pork shoulder comes from the top portion of the pig’s front leg. It’s sometimes labeled picnic shoulder, picnic arm, or picnic ham (though it’s not really a ham…ham comes from the back legs).

For this recipe, you want to get a fresh pork shoulder, not a smoked one. Depending on your market, you may find one with or without the bone.

How to remove the bone from a pork shoulder

Now, Green’s original recipe called for boneless pork shoulder. My roast still had its bone.

I’ve never been one to be shrink from butchering a big piece of meat, so The Angry Chef sharpened my big knife and I went to town. I used my butcher’s knife, but use a good boning knife if you have one. It’s thinner and more flexible.

Read on for detailed photos of how to bone a pork shoulder. (Raw meat warning: It’s my standard up-close-and-personal style of photography.)

How to roast a pork bone for your very well-behaved dog

Once you get that pesky bone out, you can toss it. Or freeze it to drop into the stock pot later. Or, if you have a dog who deserves a very nice treat, you can roast it for him along with your pork shoulder. Instructions are at the end of this article.

Dexter, a.k.a. The Happiest Dog on Earth Right Now

Should you leave the pork rind on, or remove it?

Good question. Most bone-in pork shoulders will come with the thick skin still attached. You could certainly remove it before roasting, but you’d be losing a lot of that glorious pork fat, which helps ensure the meat stays moist and juicy as it roasts. I left my pork rind on.

If you like, you can cut little slits in the skin to help the fat render more easily, which will help the skin crisp up. You can also cut the rind off after the roast is cooked, when you’re carving. Or you can carefully whack through it with a very sharp knife and serve a little skin with each slice, depending on how crispy it is. Totally up to you.

Get to the pork!

Yep, yep. Here you go.

Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder

1 fresh pork shoulder, about 7.5 lbs.
8-10 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbls. fresh rosemary, chopped
3 Tbls. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
freshly cracked black pepper

Serves 8-10

How to remove the bone from a pork shoulder

Unwrap your pork shoulder.

One end of the bone is here.

The other end is here.

So that means you want to make your cut about here.

Inside the shoulder, the bone is jointed, and goes about like this. When you get the whole bone out, you’ll see how it pivots at the ball joint, kind of like your shoulder.

Slice down into the shoulder until you hit the bone.

Pull one side of the meat back, and cut down around a little until you can see the bone.

Keep pulling the meat back on one side, then the other, and cutting until you’ve exposed most of the top of the bone.

Then lift one end up and cut under it until you’ve freed the bone.

Depending on the size and shape of your roast�and where the bone was�the meat may still be uneven. (i.e. Much thicker on one side than the other.)

If that’s the case, slice the thick part of the meat horizontally, like this, to butterfly it open.

The goal is to get it relatively flat and even.

Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder: Make the oil and garlic rub

Put the mashed garlic in a small bowl.

Toss in the herbs and 1 tsp. of kosher salt.

Add the olive oil. Mix with a fork until well combined.

Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder: Season and truss the meat

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (and/or a roasting rack, if you like). Set aside. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Sprinkle your roast with a little kosher salt.

Spread the meat with about two-thirds of the herb mixture. Reserve the other third for the top of the roast once it’s trussed.

Spread it all over the meat so it’s fairly even.

Crack on a little fresh black pepper.

Fold the meat in thirds like this:

Tie a few pieces of butcher’s twine around the roast to secure it.

Set it on your prepared pan, skin-side up.

Rub the meat with the remaining herb mixture.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and a little freshly cracked black pepper.

Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder: Roast the pork!

Pop the pan into your preheated 400 degree oven. Roast like this for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, your roast should look about like this (beginning to brown on the edges and let off some juice):

Drop the heat to 300 degrees, and roast for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Your roast is done when it registers between 160 and 170 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Your roast should look about like this:

Garlic & Herb Roasted Pork Shoulder: Carve, serve, and enjoy!

When your roast is done, lift it off onto a serving platter and tent a piece of foil over it for about 10 minutes.

I use one of my favorite kitchen tools from my grandmother to lift mine.

While your roast is resting, make a little pan gravy, if you like.

Drain the roasting juices into a saucepan, skim most of the fat off, and bring it to a boil. Simmer to reduce it by about half, then whisk in a few tablespoons of butter.

Now, you need a very sharp knife or cleaver to cut through this skin.

I turned the roast over so it was skin-side down, sliced through the meat with a cleaver, then chopped through the skin and served a little slice with each piece.

Serve and enjoy!

How to roast the pork shoulder bone for your dog

Obligatory warning: Pork bones are usually more brittle than beef bones. Never leave your dog unattended with one. That said, the shoulder bone is a really thick bone. Use your judgment. Grab the shoulder bone that you removed from your roast.

Toss it in a lightly greased baking pan. Rub it with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.

Roast in the oven alongside your trussed pork shoulder (400 degrees for 40 minutes, then 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 300 degrees).

Possibly, your beast will know what’s in the oven and wait patiently.

When it’s done, it should be nice and brown and crispy.

Let it cool completely before sharing with your pooch.



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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Great article Jessie. The recipe sounds great and I cook for my dog too.We include him at meals.I hear once not to feed him garlic but we don't use it much. Have to try this.
  2. I love that you shared your delicious feast with your dog! I'm sure your dog was really happy :) Pork Shoulder is very popular in puerto rican cuisine. It's called Pernil Spanish for Roast Pork Shoulder.
  3. Great butterflying tutorial, thanks! That looks wicked good, I love pork shoulder. I usually do pulled pork with it, I've never tried treating it like an actual roast.
  4. As usual, your recipe looks tasty - love the photos of your dog, too! Please be careful with cooked bones - I've always been told not to give them to our dogs because the bones splinter and can get lodged in or perforate their stomach/intestinal tracts (eek!)
    • Thanks, Edina! :D And you're totally right about cooked bones--they can be brittle and dangerous for dogs. Like I said, we never let him have one unsupervised. In reality, that means that we ask him to sit, give us his paw, and then we hold it (and watch) while he nibbles on it. He never even gets to run around with it. Cheers! +Jessie
      • Actually, raw bones are just fine to give. We cut the bone away from the meat and our Boston Terrier mix goes to town on it, supervised, of course. It's her favorite! We always toss the bone after she's finished eating off the meat scraps and gnawing on the bone. We accidentally discovered that giving her a 'recreational' bone regularly helps eliminate her bad breath, or death breath as we call it.
    • Edina never give POULTRY bones or small cut steak bones. Leg bones of beef or pork are sturdy enough to withstand a dog gnawing on them. Any pieces the remove will be too small to hurt them or soft enough- cartilage etc to digest safely
  5. The best roast pork picnic shoulder I have ever cooked! I followed these instructions except I rubbed the olive oil on then used my garlic press to crush the garlic added the rest of the ingredients and rubbed it all in. Tied the pork up did the same thing again with olive oil salt and spices on the outside. I wrapped it in freezer paper taped all the ends and put it in the refrigerator for 6 hours. I put my roast in a throw away foil pan and I lined the bottom of the pan with tin foil and secured a rack on top of the foil pan so the air and heat could circulate around the roast giving it even heat distribution and it turned out perfect. Experiment and find out what works best for you. Next time I want to add some fresh ginger and a little hot pepper with an orange marmalade glaze.
  6. I have made this twice in the past 2 weeks. Yours is the BEST recipe!! Also the photos of the boning is completely essential. All of the photos are excellent! We are thinking of making it for the Holidays. Thank you, Carol
  7. Ha, I found one of these cuts very cheap on sale, and bought it for making dog food (as one of our pups is... well, he has some food issues, so we're trying homemade stuff for a while to see if it helps.) So I have been skimming around trying to figure out how to deal with it, as I'm not very familiar with pork, and all of this is now making me feel like I will be jealous giving it all to the dogs! Bookmarked and I'll have to try it for people food soon, thanks for the good photos. (And your pup is pretty adorable. I wish I could give these guys the bone, but I only do it raw, and even then only bone I can chop up, because one of them just is too good at ripping off improbably sized, pokey chunks and getting them down before anybody can react. Just depends on the dog, sometimes.)
  8. Excellent recipe and de-boning tutorial. I'm working with a 10lb (and some change) roast. I've removed the bone (thanks again) and put it in for about 30 minutes @ 400 deg til it was nice and browned. I dropped the temp to 300. I'm wondering how long I need to keep it in. 10 more hours?
  9. This was absolutely a perfect recipe and it came out perfect. I looked like a gourmet cook. Thank you so this delicious and easy recipe.
  10. I have made this recipe from this website several times. I will say, this is by far my most favorite recipe in the whole wide world. I even had to make it for xmas dinner, 2 of them for my family that I travelled 12 hours to see. Yes I sat in the dang kitchen and cooked! Oh they gobbled up that roast fast. I have one in the oven right now! Thank you so much for this recipe. I will eat this until I die!
  11. What a Wonderful and Perfect recipe presentation!! *:) Clear beautiful pictures, Easy to understand instructions and Love the Simplicity of it all!! Thank you so much! Trying this recipe tonight! I'll be back!! You're a Favorite!! *:)