Will Owen's oh-so-perfect pork shoulder recipe


You see how long ago he shared this with me? I’ve probably made it two dozen times. And shared it with friends and family all over the country…with rave feedback. I also made it with lamb shoulder and it was even better if that’s possible. We buy the two-pack of boneless pork shoulder at Costco. One is used for grinding and the other for this. You’ll likely swoon so have the smelling salts available. BTW I pull it at 180 and it’s still sliceable.

Will Owen Dec 24, 2008 09:51 AM
I think I’ve posted this here before - it calls for a bigger roast than you have, but I’ve made it with a four-pounder and it came out well. Delicious.

SLOW-ROASTED PORK SHOULDER (adapted from the LA Times)

10 peeled cloves garlic

1/2 cup fennel seeds

2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 to 6 crumbled small dried red chiles, incl. seeds

1 pork shoulder butt, bone-in or boneless (about 6 to 7 pounds)

1/2 cup hot water

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup chicken broth

olive oil

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and fennel seeds and mix them together. Add the salt, pepper and chiles and combine.

  2. Cut 1-inch wide slits all over the surface including top and bottom of meat. Rub the garlic-seed mixture into the slits.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven. Sear the meat on all sides over medium-low heat for about 10 to 12 minutes. Don’t burn the garlic!.

  4. Remove the roast from the pot, add the hot water, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pan. Place a rack in the bottom of the pan, add the meat, fat side up, and roast uncovered for 30 minutes.

  5. Pour the lemon juice and the chicken broth over the meat. Brush with more olive oil.

  6. Reduce the heat to 250 degrees, cover the pan and roast the meat 8 to 10 hours, occasionally basting with pan juices. The roast will be done when the meat falls apart when poked with a fork.

  7. Remove the roast from the pot and place it on a serving platter. Skim the fat from the pan drippings and serve these on the side or drizzled over the meat.


I need smelling salts just from reading it.

No joke. It really is that good.

1 Like

My recipe’s a lot simpler:

1 chunk bone-in heritage pork shoulder (usually Riverdog Duroc-boar-etc. cross)
1/2 tsp. salt per pound of pork

Put salt in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan and add port. Cook on lowest heat, turning occasionally, until falling apart (typically four to six hours). Let it cool in its juices, separate lard and broth, shred meat.

It’s hard to believe that there’s nothing in it but pork and salt.

So on the stove top? That sounds ‘interesting’ and I mean that in a good way. Thanks.

Good eye. I didn’t catch that it was on the stovetop. A lady at my work does a stovetop turkey. She slow cooks it in a huge Dutch oven on top of the stove, in a couple inches of broth, then puts it in the oven to brown. It releases it’s own juices and fats into the broth. It is incredibly juicy and tender. And the gravy… Oh boy!

Using a Le Creuset or similar heavy enameled cast-iron dutch oven on the stove is functionally pretty much like using a slow cooker. I put a diffuser underneath because my burners won’t go quite low enough.

I cook on induction so low isn’t a problem. Will have to try it some time. What I make I pull at about 180 so it’s still sliceable. But if I wanted to shred this sounds super. I’m guessing that over the cooking time the meat will exude sufficient liquid. It sounds almost like an easy carnitas.

It is carnitas, one style of, anyway.

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Just looked up Riverdog, and it looks great. Do you order the full Pork Share or are you able to find their meat at a market near you? I’m thinking about emailing 'em about a mini share just to try it out.

Since this is "my"recipe I figured I ought to jump in here a bit. Of course it never was mine; it was adapted from a porchetta recipe that was one of several variations tried out in the L.A. Times Test Kitchen, and they were guided by numerous other recipes they’d found, plus (probably most importantly) their own knowledge and good judgment.

The plain fact is that the butt end of a pig’s shoulder is meat that requires real stupidity to ruin. Too much heat for too long and roasting uncovered is a good definition of stupidity here. My other favorite recipe is from “The Food of Paradise” by Rachel Laudan for what we call Fake Kalua Pig – or how “pit-roasted” pork is typically cooked by Hawaiians who don’t have a pit or a lot of firewood. Or that much time. It involves slashing the surface and rubbing with salt and liquid smoke (loud shrieks from the purists here), wrapping it in banana leaves tied with ti leaf strips, letting it sit overnight and then looooong cooking on a rack in a pan in a slow oven. I will not go into detail here – I’m sure anyone can find a recipe online, and besides if you dig Hawaiian food at all you NEED that book. Oh, and while banana leaves are easy for some of us to find, skillful use of a roasting bag works too – you just have to make slits in the bottom when it’s going onto the rack.

Like this? http://buncha-monkeys.com/kalua-pig-for-real-and-for-fake/

“Your” recipe is still so incredibly wonderful. Best always, Cath

[catholiver] catholiver http://foodtalkcentral.com/users/catholiver
July 8


Fake Kalua Pig

Like this? http://buncha-monkeys.com/kalua-pig-for-real-and-for-fake/

“Your” recipe is still so incredibly wonderful. Best always, Cath

Thank you! I had the Kalua Pig recipe on my mind anyway because I’m
making it for a party this week. I might very well use the slow cooker
instead of the oven; I keep forgetting that I do have a big one now, and
I’m sure it’ll use a lot less electricity. Now I just have to figure out
how to meld the two recipes together.


Oh, and BTW – No recipe is perfect, ever. That’s 90% of the charm, I think!

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Keep me posted, kiddo.

Except for yours :slight_smile: When I served it to my stepdaughter and she then served it at a dinner party for her mom’s birthday…well, what does that tell you? :slight_smile:

[catholiver] catholiver http://foodtalkcentral.com/users/catholiver
July 8

Except for yours :slight_smile: When I served it to my stepdaughter
and she then served it at a dinner party for her mom’s
birthday…well, what does that tell you? :slight_smile:

“Perfect” means no improvement is possible. I am not willing to assign
that category to anything I’ve ever done. Nor do I think I should.

Okay :slight_smile:

[catholiver] catholiver http://foodtalkcentral.com/users/catholiver
July 8

Okay :slight_smile:

Cath – I can send the original text from the L.A. Times article if you
want. Just can’t post it on FB because it’s copyrighted.

That would be super, WO. Thanks.