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
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.