Why It Works
- Starting the pork in a low oven breaks down tough connective tissue.
- Finishing the pork in high heat rapidly crisps up the skin.
Pork shoulder, also referred to as pork butt, starts out as a hulking mass of tough meat wrapped in a thick skin. This recipe starts the pork in a low oven for a leisurely eight-hour roast, resulting in spoonably tender meat. Then, we finish the shoulder off in a ripping hot 500°F oven to rapidly heat the skin until it's shatteringly crisp.
If you want to serve your pork with a sauce, try making a pan sauce (see note), or pair it with sweet and spicy nuoc cham, Chinese style char siu, Cuban mojo, a sweet Memphis-style barbecue sauce, or a bright Argentinian chimichurri. Or better yet, serve it with a whole selection.
- 1 whole bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder, 8 to 12 pounds total
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 250°F (121°C).
Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil (see note) and set a wire rack inside it. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the wire rack. Season pork on all sides liberally with salt and pepper and place on parchment paper. Transfer to oven and roast until knife or fork inserted into side shows very little resistance when twisted, about 8 hours total.
Remove pork from oven and tent with foil. Let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. Increase oven to 500°F and allow to preheat. Return pork to the oven and roast until skin is blistered and puffed, rotating every 5 minutes, about 20 minutes total. Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest an additional 15 minutes. Serve by picking in the kitchen or just bring it to the table and let guests pick meat and crispy skin themselves, dipping into sauce of their choice on the side (see note).
To make a pan sauce, skip the aluminum foil when roasting; when the pork's finished, drain off and discard the excess fat and deglaze the rimmed baking sheet by heating it over a single burner and adding two cups of white wine, chicken stock, or a combination of both. Scrape up browned bits, transfer to a small saucepan, season to taste, and whisk in two tablespoons butter off heat.