Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

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Forget Febreeze — the best way to make your house smell awesome is to stick a seasoned pork roast in a low temperature oven and slowly cook that sucker over 8-10 hours. My kids were panting like little puppies at the oven window all day waiting for the roast to come out.

I originally learned about this technique from Michael Chiarello’s recipe for Forever Roasted Pork. I simplified the recipe by using Chili Con Carne seasoning as my rub but any dry rub will work. Try to use the best pastured pork you can find and make sure your roast has the skin PLUS a thick layer of fat. If you’ve got a nice fatty cut, the long roasting time will make the meat meltingly tender and moist. However, if you’re stuck with a lean conventional pork roast, you’re out of luck and should just skip this recipe. (You can still salvage your roast by braising it in the oven or slow cooker.)

Here’s what I gathered to serve 4-6 people:

Here’s how I made it:

The night before I roasted the pork, I scored the skin with a sharp paring knife in a cross-hatch pattern. Then, I seasoned the whole roast LIBERALLY with salt and Chili Con Carne seasoning.

I placed the roast in the fridge to marinate overnight (12-24 hours).

The next morning, I preheated the oven to 275 F and took the roast out of the fridge.

I covered a baking tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil and placed the vegetables on top of it to make a rack for the roast. I lay the roast on top of the vegetables and then let the roast sit on the counter for over an hour to bring the pork up to room temperature.

I placed the roast into the oven and let it slowly roast for 8-10 hours until the meat was fork-tender. I discarded the vegetables and transferred the roast to a platter to rest for 30 minutes.

When I was ready to serve the pork, I peeled off the skin and fat…

…and shredded the meat with my hands.

Super delicious and SIMPLE.

Plus, who doesn’t like roast pork scented air freshener?

Slow Cooker Pork Pot Roast

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I know that it might seem like my SousVide Supreme  holds favored appliance status in the kitchen (and it does), but slowly, yet surely, my cheap-ass Crock-Pot is coming in out of the doghouse.

The Crock-Pot was banished to the garage (a.k.a. appliance doghouse) due to it’s inconsistent output but now I think it might deserve it’s own permanent spot on the kitchen counter. Gasp!

Why all the renewed adulation? Recently, my l’il slow cooker has produced quite a few tasty meals with little fuss or muss. Tonight was no exception. I adapted another recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution, the new cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, and the results were delicious. Plus, I was able to throw it together in about 30 minutes (including clean-up).

*Update 5/14/11: Splashing in some Red Boat fish sauce to the braising liquid before cooking and at the very end really  adds a special oomph to the dish. It truly is a secret weapon in your pantry!

Here’s what I assembled to feed 8 people:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 8 leeks, whites only, thinly sliced (or 2 medium onions, chopped medium)
  • 1 small cabbage, cut into eighths (optional)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a few good shakes of Sunny Paris seasoning)
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/4 cup organic chicken stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1.5 pounds of carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 (2-to 2.5-pound) boneless pork picnic shoulder roasts, trimmed and tied or 1 4-pound picnic roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Banyuls vinegar
  • Red Boat fish sauce

Here’s how I made it:

I melted the ghee in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. I know I could make my own but I don’t. Here’s the one I’m really digging at the moment:

Then, I added the leeks, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme to the melted ghee. If you don’t have fresh herbs, just shake on some dried ones! I cooked the leeks until they were softened and lightly browned (8-10 minutes).

Then, I added the broth and vermouth to deglaze the pan.

I chucked the leek mixture along with the tomatoes, carrots, and celery into the slow cooker. If you are adding cabbage, tuck it in around the roast. (*UPDATE: 5/14/11: I splashed on some Red Boat Fish sauce before proceeding to the next step.)

I dried off my roasts, took off the elastic netting…

…and seasoned them liberally with salt and pepper. (*Update 5/14/11: I also sprinkled on Sunny Paris seasoning all over the pork. It’s best to season your pork overnight to get the best flavor.)

I tied the roasts up with twine…

…and nestled them into the slow cooker.

I covered the cooker and set it to cook on low for 9-11 hours.

After the roast was finished cooking, I fished out the two roasts and put them on a cutting board to rest.

I removed the thyme twigs from the pot and I used a large spoon to degrease the braising liquid. I added the vinegar, fish sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Then, I shredded up the meat, served it on top of the veggies, and poured on the braising liquid.

This meal was a hit for the whole family (except for Little-O) and I can’t wait to gobble up the leftovers!

*Update 5/14/11: If you have a roast with a nice layer of fat on top, broil it for a few minutes to carmelize the fat! See below for pics and directions:

After I removed the roast from the slow cooker…

…I put the roast on a coconut oil greased rack on top of a foil-lined tray and stuck it in the broiler for about 2-3 minutes or until evenly browned.

Once it’s nice and toasty, I nestled the roast back in the veggies and braising liquid and shredded the meat with two forks.

Voila!

Definitely do this version if you’ve a nice fatty pork roast!

Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder Roast

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So. Damn. Easy.

The hardest part of this recipe is to remember to defrost and season your roast a couple days in advance. When you’re ready to eat it, just pop the pork and some chopped aromatics in your slow cooker and your dinner cooks while you’re at work (or while you’re sleeping).

Here’s what I assembled to feed 4 hungry adults:

  • 2.5 pound tied boneless pork shoulder roast (I wish I had a bigger one but I got this size in my CSA box)
  • 2-4 tablespoons Chili Con Carne Seasoning (or your favorite dry rub)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 1/2” slices

Here’s what I did:

I dried off the pork roast with some paper towels and seasoned it liberally with salt, pepper, and the spice blend. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with the seasoning.

I placed the roast in a gallon sized Ziploc bag, squeezed out all air, and stuck it in the fridge. The roast should marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

A couple days later, I threw some chopped carrots and onions into my slow cooker and tossed them with salt and pepper.

I placed the roast (and collected juices) on top of the vegetables, covered it with a lid, and cooked the pork on low for 8-10 hours.

When the roast was finished cooking, I preheated my broiler. I placed the roast on a greased wire rack on a lined baking sheet and put it under the broiler (~ 6 inches from the heating element) and browned it for about 2 minutes on each side.

I cut the binding on the roast plated the carrots, onions, and gravy. I put the roast on top of the veggies and used two forks to shred the meat.

Yummy. My only regret is I didn’t have a larger roast because I barely had any leftovers!