Pork butts, that is.
Cooking a pork shoulder (or sometimes called Pork Butt or Boston Butt if it’s from the upper part of the shoulder), is one of the easiest and best things you can do. Trust me. If you’re a pork eater, you need this in your life.
I grew up with my mom making her version of this all the time. She calls it Pickin’ Pork. And I gotta say, it’s the perfect thing to make for a party too (right, mama?). It can feed an army, is great for platters (with corn muffins and a sautéed dark, leafy green) or for pulled pork sandwiches…you can add barbecue sauce to it, or not… it’s absolutely one of the greatest things you can know how to do as a cook and entertainer. Plus, the leftovers are phenomenal. My mom uses hers for Barbecue Pulled Pork Tacos and we like to go the Sweet ‘n Sour Pork route around here.
Basically, here’s the deal- You’re seasoning this big, hunk o meat ahead of time, letting it sit in the fridge for up to 3 days (preferred for optimum flavor, but not necessary), and then letting the oven do all the work for you… all day! That’s it.
Keep this butt in your back pocket, folks. Fo realz.
SLOW COOKED PORK SHOULDER
(Bone-in pork butts in the regular grocery store average around 8-10 lbs. And you can do this same exact thing with a fresh ham/pork leg.)
Place your pork butt or shoulder, fat cap-side down, in a high sided roasting pan that you’ve lined with heavy duty aluminum foil. (Of course, the foil isn’t necessary, but trust me- it really really helps with clean-up later. After cooking, you just let the rendered fat sit in the foil-lined pan overnight and solidify, then fold up the edges of the foil and throw away with minimal to no pan cleaning required.)
Season* the hell out of the exposed side, and on the edges. Flip the butt over and do the same on the fat side. (See note at the bottom of the page for seasoning ideas!)
Slit the fat cap a few times with a sharp knife so the seasoning can seep into the meat and also because it looks purty.
For best results, place this into the fridge, seasoned and uncovered, for 3 days. Less is also fine.
Or, if you need to make this today, that can also work. It just won’t be quite as flavorful…
When it’s time to cook it, pour white, distilled vinegar around the meat- enough to come up about an inch in the pan (apple cider vinegar also works but plain ole white is what I grew up with and it’s cheap and easy).
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-8 hours. If you’re gonna go closer to 8, or beyond, cut the oven down to 275 after 5 hours. It will be cooked through by then, just may require more time to tenderize.
About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, remove the foil and place back in the oven to brown and crisp up the skin for a prettier butt 😉
Once done, remove the pork from the liquid (pretty much just fat) in the roasting pan and place on a serving platter. Pull apart into large chunks with a fork and serve however you’d like!
*The main thing you need to remember here is that you are seasoning far more than you think you need to… this is a very thick and large piece of meat so you’re seasoning down into it, not only the outside! Here are some ideas for seasoning options… My go-to is an Adobo seasoning blend mixed with light brown sugar. I also like adding cumin, chili powder, cinnamon and garlic powder. You can do oregano, garlic and salt. Sometimes I also rub with dijon mustard. But simple kosher salt and pepper can work in a pinch 😉
Whatever you choose to season it with, I assure you you will love the hell out of knowing how to do this. It’s the best and most deliciously kept secret…