Pork shoulder is a versatile cut of meat that can be slow roasted to give a classic roast with crackling, cooked until soft enough to pull-apart for pulled pork, or diced and cooked in casseroles and hot pots.
A whole shoulder of pork is a big piece of meat made up of most of the forequarter of the animal. Unless you ask for it specifically from the butchers, or you want to feed at least 20 people, it will be broken down into smaller roasting joints. The shoulder is made up of lots of different muscles intertwined with fat and the best way to cook it is slowly until tender to break down the fat and the connective tissue. Pork shoulder also makes good pork mince and is often the cut used for sausages.
Buying pork shoulder
For roasting pick a neat piece of boned shoulder that’s cylinder shaped and surrounded in skin (if you want crackling), tied at regular intervals. For even cooking and serving avoid irregular, tapered joints or ball shaped pieces.
For pulled pork pick a skinless piece, it doesn’t have to be evenly shaped. The cut that’s used in America is called ‘pork butt’ which is taken from the top part of the shoulder.
Roast pork shoulder: top tips
- You will need about 300g of meat per person
- If you want crackling then the joint needs to be skin-on
- Seasoning the skin with salt the day before will help the crackling crisp
- There shouldn’t be any need to cover the pork as it’s cooked so low
- Using our timing will mean the pork will be cooked through but it should be cooked until tender
- The pork can be roasted on a rack for even cooking if you have one
Roast pork shoulder recipe
Prep 5 mins Cook 3 hrs
2kg boned and rolled piece of pork shoulder
1 tbsp sunflower oil
- Season the skin with salt up to 24 hrs beforehand and keep the pork uncovered in the fridge if you can. If you don’t have time simply season the pork just before roasting.
- Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Rub the pork skin with the oil and sit the pork on a rack in a roasting tray. If you don’t have a rack, put it straight in the roasting tray.
- Roast for 30 mins or until the skin begins to crackle, blister and brown.
- Reduce heat to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and roast for about 2 hrs or until the meat is very tender when tested with a sharp knife.
- If the crackling hasn’t crackled sufficiently turn the oven back up to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 to finish it off, checking every couple of minutes that it’s not burning.
- Remove from the oven to rest.
Our top 3 pork shoulder recipes
1. Roast pork & apples
A great all-in-one roast with apples and gravy. Just add some potatoes and greens for an easy family Sunday lunch. It takes a grand total of five minutes preparation before cooking and any leftover pork makes a delicious soup or stir-fry.
2. Pulled pork
Pulled pork is an easy way to feed a crowd, you don’t even need cutlery and this recipe uses minimal ingredients for a mouthwatering dish. Serve at a summer barbecue with plenty of coleslaw and a bowl of juices on the side for ‘French dipping’.
3. Pork vindaloo
This spicy curry showcases diced pork shoulder and can be made ahead for the best flavour. Marinate the pork with traditional Indian spices for an aromatic dinner. Use fewer chillies for a milder taste.
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