Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pork Shoulder Roast-

Barbecue has not been at the top of our culinary experimentation list over the past few months. My kids and grandkids moved back home from Texas, expanding our household and shifting various family responsibilities.

Food purchasing and preparation has fallen largely to my daughter, Beth. Barbecue is not her first consideration when purchasing food or making meal plans, especially with so many young family members as part of the dining experience. After working with a few interesting cuts of meat, the focus shifted to practical daily meals.

Recently Beth discovered that Safeway (the store closest to home) can have some very good bargains on meat. However, barbecue depends on my schedule. I am available to cook only part of the week, being away for days at a time for work. So, preparation of most meals falls to her, and that means kitchen preparation.

"We should thaw out and barbecue that pork shoulder roast." she said the other day. Followed by repeated failures on her part and mine to get it out and into the refrigerator to thaw. So, yesterday being a very good day for a California barbecue, we tried a quick-thaw in repeated changes of cold water over the course of several hours.

I got my coals going, and laid the fire. The meat was oiled with Olive Oil and rubbed with my equal portions (Kosher salt/black pepper/seasoned salt) rub, and draped with bacon. I set the meat on a clean, hot grill in the cooking chamber, and placed the probe in the most distant point in the meat. The resistance of probe placement indicated that the thaw was incomplete, and might prove problematic. I continued, preparing to learn something from what might prove an error.

My thermometer did not even register internal meat temperature. "Lo" is all it said for a good part of the first hour. Not a promising beginning. We soldiered on, adding a handful of coals to the fire every twenty minutes or so. As anticipated, it took a while for the internal temperature to come up. All in all the cook took just a bit over five hours on a six pound roast. I moved the probe once the target temperature was reached. It was a few degrees lower, so I gave it another twenty minutes.

I pulled the roast out and let it rest (covered) for fifteen minutes. As I sliced the roast and cut it from the bone I found the lower part of the roast to be a bit rare. Being pork I felt that this was a bit underdone. I oiled a wok and began frying up the slices to finish. They turned out rather nicely, and the family enjoyed them with a potato dish based on Cracker Barrel cheese potatoes and a side of pork-and-beans.

Everyone satisfied I sliced what more I could from the bone and fried the slices to put away in the refrigerator. The odd chunks cut and pulled from the bone were chopped and fried with a bit more olive oil, some red wine vinegar, and a splash of soy sauce. This was put away in the refrigerator for future sandwiches.

Several lessons here. First, thoroughly thaw the meat to insure a consistent starting temperature and even cooking. Second, it is easy to fix undercooked meat. Perhaps easier than fixing meat that is overcooked and dry. Combining barbecue and frying finished this roast quite nicely, and may serve as a planned finish on some future meals.

1 comment:

Barry "CB" Martin said...

Depending upon what size of pork shoulder you were cooking - and if it was pre-brined by the processor, it could take up to 10-12 hours for an 8 - 10lb pork shoulder to properly cook on a low & slow cooker temperature of about 200F - 225F degrees. If you don't have the patience to monitor the cooker (gas grills come in very handy for this - with a smoker box and some wood chips) then do as I sometimes do.

Make sure it's thawed all the way thru - then brine for about 8 hours with a standard brine recipe that includes something sweet along with the salt, maybe even a bit of apple cider vinegar - and then rinse, dry off, season with some ground pepper and spritz canola oil on it and grill it on all sides until it browns a bit - if you have smoker box with wood chips or are using charcoal - so much the better.

When it's browned and flavored a bit by the grill and any smoke you are able to add - remove it and place in either a Dutch oven or slow cooker and cook that way for about 8 hours on low (225F - 250F) or until the internal temp of the pork is 200F degrees. Remove and wrap - let sit in the oven or microwave or cooler (no ice) for about an hour or so - while you prepare the rest of the dinner.

You can slice it, pull it, shred it, chop it and add sauce per each serving to the taste and delight of your family and guests.