This is one of a number of recipes from Kenji Lopez-Alt's book, The Food Lab, that is simply too good to ignore. I happened to be shopping at a Market Basket® store and they had pork shoulder on sale at 89 cents per pound. Remembering Kenji's recipe I immediately bought a nine pound pork shoulder for the princely sum of $8! I wasted no time when I got home preparing the pork to be roasted, per the directions below.
Kenji sure was right about this roasting method and the wonderful tasting pork and crisp pork skin. Besides us enjoying it thoroughly for multiple meals we even had lots of leftovers for our dogs as a supplement to their regular food. In short, what a fantastic purchase! I got more value for dollar spent than for anything else I have made for more years than I can remember.
You definitely want to make this wonderful roast. I provide directions for making a pork gravy so you likely want to make some mashed potatoes for the meal, along with whatever other vegetables or salad that please you. I suggest that you make those items near the end of the initial seven hour cooking period, for you will be busy making gravy and attending to the pork roast for the final thirty minutes of high temperature roasting.
As a bit of background information, note that a pork shoulder roast has light and dark pork meat, which is rich in pork taste, far better than cuts like pork loin. Note also that roasting provides crisp meat and skin at the surface and very moist and tender meat internally, partially due to the initial fat content of the meat, which is gradually melted away during a long low temperature cooking period. The key to keeping the roast moist and tender is to do the initial long period of cooking with the roast covered completely in aluminum foil.
Oh, I did vary slightly from Kenji's recipe by doing the final roasting at a lower temperature than what he recommended in his book. I did that to limit the production of smoke during the roasting process, noting that a slight increase in roasting time would accomplish the necessary crisping of the meat and skin surface.
1 whole 8 to 11 pound pork shoulder (With skin attached on at least one side)
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
Season the pork with the salt and pepper, then wrap it in aluminum foil.
Place the wrapped pork in a large ovenproof skillet and cook it for seven hours or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature but remember to keep the thermometer tip away from bone.
Remove the wrapped pork from the skillet to a wood cutting board and set the skillet aside. Note that there will be melted pork fat and liquid from the roast and likely some particles of pork in the skillet, which will be used, except for the fat, when making the pork gravy.
Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F, while letting the meat rest for 15 minutes.
Put a fresh piece of aluminum foil on a large cookie sheet that has raised edges all the way around and put a wire cooling rack on the foil.
Unwrap the pork roast and place it on the wire rack.
Roast the pork for 30 minutes, turning the cookie sheet around every five minutes. I recommend using a timer. There may be a bit of smoke in your oven near the end of the 30 minutes.
While the pork is roasting you can defat the liquid in the skillet and make a pork gravy.
With the defatted liquid put back into the skillet, add one 14 ounce can of chicken broth.
Add 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper as seasoning.
Heat the skillet on medium heat to a low simmer while using a wood spoon to scrape any particles from the inside of the skillet and mix them with the liquid.
Make a mixture of 1/2 can of chicken broth, 2 tbsp. of corn starch and 2 tbsp. of flour.
Add that mixture to the skillet and increase the temperature to high.
Use the other half of the can of chicken broth to rinse out the mixing cup with the corn starch and flour residue, adding that to the skillet.
Stir the skillet contents continuously to keep the corn starch and flour completely mixed with the skillet liquid until the gravy boils and thickens.
Turn off the heat and put the gravy into a one quart bowl.
Cover the gravy bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside, in a second warming oven if you have one. Otherwise, you can warm the gravy later in a microwave oven at serving time.
After the pork has roasted for the last 5 minute period, remove it from the oven and place the cookie sheet on a granite counter or other heat proof surface and let the pork rest for 20 minutes, and do turn off the oven.
You can now serve the pork and the gravy, hopefully with some nice mashed potatoes.
Absolutely yummy! Be sure to enjoy the crisp skin along with the pork meat.