Easy Slow Roasted Pork for a Game Day Crowd
Click to watch my 5 minute video http://bit.ly/slowroastedpork or follow these simple steps to achieve fantastic porcine perfection.
The biggest day in North American sport is the #SuperBowl, no other event even comes close. It’s also the biggest day for food too with almost every sports bar, pub and roadhouse selling tens of millions of wings, ribs and sliders.
Don’t think that you have to leave home to get delicious #GameDayFood; there is another way, faster, far cheaper AND you don’t even need to be a chef to get great results…
The pork we can buy in Canada is nearly perfect, it’s available everywhere, very reasonably priced, some of the highest quality in the world and when cooked properly, a great way to feed a big crowd on game day.
Like most chefs, I like the cheaper cuts, the ones you never see on a restaurant menu, the larger old school cuts rewarded by long and low cooking. For the big game a slow roasted pork shoulder is the perfect solution. This cut usually goes on sale in January and at $25 per shoulder goes a very long way.
The shoulder takes a long time to cook however the process is actually simple and doesn’t require any special items other than a big roasting pan and a baking rack. This pork shoulder weighed about 16lbs in total. Ideally, you want it fresh and to have lots of skin that when you score later will get nice and crispy.
Step 1 – Debone and Butterfly
The first step is to debone and butterfly the roast, this lets you season the inside and makes it easier to carve later without the bone in the way. Let your butcher do this for you if you’re not confident with this step; they will be happy to help. Be sure to save the bone to include in the roasting pan – it adds lots of great flavour.
Step 2 – Seasoning, Part 1
Once the shoulder is opened up, season with lots of kosher salt, coarse pepper and your preferred barbeque seasoning. For a 15 lb roast, you will need ¼ lb of salt, 3 TBSP of pepper and ¼ cup of your seasoning mix to cover the inside and outside.
Step 3 – Scoring the Skin For More Flavour
Once the roast is seasoned on the inside, you fold it back over itself and it’s time to score the skin. I like an X-Acto style knife for this, cutting parallel lines about 1 cm apart and about 5 mm deep. The slits allow the fat to melt out, resulting in that really interesting cross-hatched look. Most importantly you’ll get spectacular crackling. (and everything is better with crackling!)
Step 4 – Tying the Roast
After seasoning and butterflying I tie the roast back into shape, usually 5 or 6 ties on the short side and 3 or 4 on the long edge are enough. You don’t have to do this, you can just leave it folded over, but I find it helps the roast hold its shape better and cook more evenly. Place the shoulder in the roasting pan on the rack with the bone beside it.
Step 5 – More Seasoning!
The last step before cooking is to season the top (scored fat side) and the bottom (meat side) before you start the long cooking process. Remember that for a roast like this, seasoning at the beginning is far more effective than a sprinkle at the end, plus the salt on top will help with the fat draining off so you get the lovely crunchy layer of crackling on the top.
Step 6 – Roast in the Oven
I use the general rule of 1 hour per 1 lb (uncovered) when cooking a roast like this at 275F. Plan for about 14 hours of cooking plus an hour to rest in the cooling oven. After 6 hours, remove the pork shoulder from the oven and cut off the strings. The roast will have shrunk and the strings stick to the crackling if you leave them on any longer.
After 14 hours of cooking at 275F turn off the oven and continue to let the roast rest in the cooling oven for another hour. Here is where the baking rack comes in handy. All that slow cooking makes the pork shoulder super tender so it will fall apart if you try to use tongs to move it. Instead lift out the whole roast on the rack, tilt to one side and then slide it on to a cutting board.
Step 7 – Serve and Enjoy
By the time you are ready to serve, you will have 11-12 lbs of perfectly cooked pork shoulder, crispy on the top and sides, but still moist and tender on the inside; easily enough for 15 people. For me, some Bullseye BBQ sauce, super tart coleslaw (helps cut the fat), slider/Kaiser buns, maybe a well chilled ale (or three) and we’re good to go. And as a bonus (if it needs one!!) as I prepared it here, the pork shoulder is not only local, both also #glutenfree and #dairyfree too.
I love this method because it’s a great tasting, cost effective way to feed a crowd with minimal effort by the host. Let me know how your #SuperBowl party went by leaving a comment below.