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Help me save a cooked shoulder?


wnissen
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I picked up a Niman Ranch pork shoulder the other day, and decided to do my first slow-cooking of a roast. Niman had a recipe on their website, from Chez Panisse, that called for roasting in an earthenware dish at 400F for 2.5 hours for a 4 lb. roast. I figured I would do a lower temperature on my grill, and throw in some wood chips to add a hint of smoke. However, the result was not notably tender, parts of the interior are still 50% fat (like bacon would be), and the bottom was cooked to an inedible crust. Is there any way to fix this (besides the crust)?

To be specific, I rubbed a tied roast with a lot of salt, some pepper and sage, and let it rest for 40 minutes in the fridge. I put it in the middle of my gas grill, and turned the front and back burners to low. This yielded a temperature of about 300F in the grill. After two hours or so, it started to drip and flare up, so I put it in a cast iron skillet. I had a probe in it the whole time (starting from 40F), and did see a pause around 170F. I finished it at 350F or so, and it reached 180F internal after 3.5 hours. Somewhere in the middle there I ran out to Safeway to buy wood chips, and put them in a foil packet between the burner and the grill. They smoked, but I read now that smoke stops entering after the skin temperature reaches 140F or so, so that explains the lack of smoke flavor on the inside. Still, I was expecting more of the fat to render out, and a really tender texture (I am slicing against the grain). It didn't exactly happen. Can I put this baby in the oven at 220 and render out some of

the fat? Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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It sounds like it just needs to be cooked more. In the oven at 250 (or 225) should do ya' just fine. It sounds like the exterior is plenty cooked so you should probably cover it with foil.

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The problem may be that a pork roast is different from a pork shoulder. The shoulder is a tough, fatty piece of meat. It's meant to be cooked low and slow (225* for about an hour per pound) so that the collegen in the muscle fibers transforms into gelatin. The shoulder is then ready for pulling If you go too fast, this doesn't happen.

A pork roast, on the other hand, is, I believe, from the loin. It's a much more tender cut. You just want to get it up to temperature and then slice it.

If you tried to cook a shoulder with a roast recipe, that probably won't work. You don't get the pulled pork texture, and the shoulder meat is too tough for a roast.

I'm guessing that the cast-iron skillet was close enough to the live burners that it heated to over 300*.

I'd put it in the oven at 225 and let it for about two hours or so. Then wrap it loosely in foil and put in an a warm oven for an hour. It may be ready for pulling by then.

Edited by Stone (log)
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OK, more slow cooking it is! Thanks for your help. The recipe I found caled for a 4 lb. pork shoulder roast. Actually, I finally figured out how to link to the recipe (stupid pop ups!) http://www.nimanranch.com/recipes/porkReci...orkShoulder.htm

I'm a little surprised that they would call it long-cooked when it's only 35 minutes a pound.

Oh, can I just let the fat run off, or should I elevate the shoulder?

Thanks again,

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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Alice's recipe calls for an earthenware baking dish. Perhaps she has a moist oven, like a French bake oven. You can modify the dish by using a covered earthenware vessel for three hours (providing moist heat), then remove the lid and and expose the outside of the roast for crispness about an hour. It will be moist, and there will be flavoured juices for a sauce.

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You can place a disposable aluminum drip pan underneath the meat to aovid flare ups.

Regarding smoke penetration, it is my understanding that the smoke will not get too far into the meat. When you slice, pull or shred the finished shoulder, mix the meat together. This will distribute the heavily smoked with the unsmoked meat and you really won't notice that a good bit of the meat is not smoked.

John

"I can't believe a roasted dead animal could look so appealing."--my 10 year old upon seeing Peking Duck for the first time.

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Sounds like Saint Alice doesn't "get" BBQ. Go to any of the numerous threads here, not the least of which is Smoking Meat at Home in the eGCI. Anything above about 225F is NOT low slow roasting.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Thanks very much to everyone who contributed! I put it in the oven, which was able to get 225F without too much trouble, and did my best to both cover and let the juices drip. I left it wrapped in foil, but upside down on a rack so the fat could drip off. You can see in the picture the fat pooling in the pan, which I decided to re-use because it never technically got "clean" from last time.

i8049.jpg

Then I basically left it except for a coupla three temperature checks, and let it bake for three hours. It was supposed to be two, but there was a miscommunication between my wife and I before I left for Costco. Anyway, I tried the three hour pork, and was much happier with the result. Nearly as moist, but much better texture!

i8048.jpg

I definitely prefer the more-cooked version; the old one was good but really felt like I was eating raw bacon, even though I knew that, microbiologically, it was cooked. Thanks much for saving my shoulder.

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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Hey, was that staged? It just seemed so sureal that there was a story, protaganist, climax and resolution in that post. IM glad the shoulder worked out for you, there was no need to worry.

Edited by chefdg (log)

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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