How to Cook a Pork Shoulder Picnic-Style

Raw pork on cutting board
Raw pork shoulder on a cutting board. (Image: Slawomir Fajer/iStock/Getty Images)

Pork shoulder meat is a less expensive, fattier pork cut that when smoked tastes much like ham. The term picnic style is a standard descriptor for pork shoulder because many actually consider it a casual dining or picnic alternative to ham. If you purchase a picnic-style pork shoulder fresh rather than smoked, cured and ready to eat, stovetop and oven cooking methods include roasting and braising, or if you cut the meat up, stewing.

Roast It

Step 1

Trim away as much visible fat as you can. A picnic-style pork shoulder contains a significant amount of internal marbling that while adding flavor also increases the amount of saturated fat in the meat. The more fat you cut off before roasting, the less fatty and healthier the meat will be.

Step 2

Set the pork shoulder on a rack in a shallow roasting pan to allow fat to drip off the meat during roasting. Insert an oven-proof meat thermometer into a meaty section the shoulder roast; avoid placing it near a bone.

Step 3

Season with a sprinkling of herbs such as garlic, rosemary and a little black pepper or a combination that suits your taste preference.

Step 4

Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, preheat and then set the roasting pan in your oven. Because this is a dry-heat method of cooking, do not cover the pork shoulder or add any liquid to the roasting pan.

Step 5

Roast about 30 to 35 minutes per pound. The meat thermometer should read at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit before you remove the roasting pan from your oven.

Braise It

Step 1

Prepare your pork shoulder by trimming away visible fat, patting it dry with a few paper towels and then seasoning with a sprinkling of black pepper. Drying helps the meat brown better, which increases its flavor.

Step 2

Turn a stove burner to medium-high heat and pour the olive oil in an oven-proof pot. Heat the oil and then add the pork shoulder. Brown the meat for about eight minutes, using tongs to turn the meat and ensure all sides brown evenly.

Step 3

Add cooking liquid to the pot and cover. As an option, transfer the browned pork shoulder to a crockpot using tongs and add cooking liquid to the crockpot.

Step 4

Braise the pork shoulder at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 1/3 to three hours in your oven or on the "Low" setting in your crockpot all day. Test with a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reads at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife

  • Roasting pan with a wire rack

  • Meat thermometer

  • Garlic cloves

  • Rosemary

  • Pepper

  • Paper towels

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • Oven-proof cooking pot

  • Tongs

  • 3/4 cup apple cider or low sodium beef broth

  • Potatoes

  • Onions

  • Carrots

  • Celery

Tip

When braising a picnic-style pork shoulder, consider preparing your whole meal at once by adding vegetables such as quartered potatoes and onions, carrots slices or celery pieces during the last hour of cooking.

Stewing is an option similar to braising except you cut the meat into cubes before browning.

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