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Pork Shoulder to Shank

Pork Shoulder to Shank Roasting Methods by Tim

For a few years, I have been trying ways to cook pork shoulder parts with varied success.  I frequently make carnitas and it is always wonderful; we frequently serve it in large pieces rather than shredding.  The cheapest cut provides an elegant meal.

Pork Shoulder, Butt, Country Ribs, Picnic Ham and Hocks are heavily used muscles with a web of connective tissue.  These inexpensive cuts taste wonderful but can become dry and stringy.  I have tried many cooking methods and thinking about carnitas gave me the answers to reliable recipes.

These techniques provide succulent and delicious portions.    

NOTE:  I am continuing work on this recipe and may have developed a way to dry brine or cure these cuts.  More to come.



Yes, you must cook these cuts very slowly to an internal temperature of 200F.  The following standards will guide your way.

Never, never dry roast these tough cuts of pork.

Dry roasting removes moisture.  The meat becomes stringy, dry without succulent texture or flavor.


Braising these cuts does not improve the texture.

Cooking in liquid actually removes moisture from the meat resulting in stringy pork with less flavor.


Confit the pork slowly in pork fat at 225°F.  

Cooking slowly in fat increases the cooking time yielding a more tender texture and holds in moisture for flavor.  The low temperature also eliminates the Maillard reaction.  The meat can be browned in a hot oven after the confit is complete.

Note:  An oven at 250°F does not maintain that precise temperature; 

the oven will most likely cycle from a high of 290°F to a low of 210°F.  

When the cycle is at the high level you will see small bubbles.  

That means the roast is lowing moisture.  It is best to confit at 225°F.  

Confit requires a lot of fat.  A better technique is to cut the shoulder into large chunks, fully season and pack tightly in a braising pan.  Top the meat with pork skin/fat and cover before cooking.


         Dry Roast a skin-on pork cut at 250°F.

You may also roast a pork roast with skin-on that protects the meat from drying out and becoming stringy.  You may order skin-on pork shoulder or picnic ham from your local butcher.

Season well and roast at 250°F until the roast reaches 205°F.  This may take up to 12 hours.


         Wrap a skinless pork cut with fresh pork fat and dry roast it a 250°F

You may also order fresh pork skin through your local butcher.  This will allow you to cover any pork roast with fresh pork skin.

Season well and roast at 250°F until the roast reaches 205°F.  This may take up to 12 hours.



My suggestion is to start with pork shanks.  Bone them before serving.  Provide one shank for each person and you will have some left-overs.  Follow with country ribs, 7-bone roast, and a picnic ham.


We would appreciate knowing your experiences.