How to Slow Cook Shoulder-Butt


No matter how you slice, chunk or shred it, slow-cooked pork is a delicious and versatile crowd-pleaser. The shoulder-blade Boston roast, also known as pork shoulder or Boston pork butt, is the perfect cut for slow cooking because its high fat content keeps the meat moist, tender and juicy, even in dry heat. You can brine, rub or marinate the meat before you cook it, and serve it plain or topped with your favorite pan or barbecue sauce.

Trim the Roast

Peel away the skin if the butcher hasn't already removed it. Slice along the length of the skin and pull it back, cutting as needed to remove it if it doesn't peel back easily.

Trim excess fat if you'll serve the pork shredded.

If you'll serve the pork as a traditional oven roast, score the fat by cutting through it in a diamond pattern, without slicing into the meat.

Prepare the Roast for Slow Cooking

Add flavor and moisture to the pork by soaking it for at least two hours, and for as long as 24 hours, in a brine made by dissolving 1 1/2 cups each of kosher salt and sugar in 2 quarts of water. Cool the brine completely, then submerge the roast in the brine and refrigerate it until you're ready to cook it.

Alternatively, prepare a dry rub by mixing such spices as salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. Coat the roast with the mixture and rub it into the meat.

Marinate the meat for several hours or overnight using your favorite meat marinade as an alternative to brine and a dry rub.

Oven Roasting

Season the meat with salt and pepper before putting it in an oven preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, fat or skin side up.

Roast the pork until the fat expands and starts to brown.

Cover the pan tightly with two thicknesses of foil and seal the foil tightly around the edges of the pan. Roast the meat for an additional 4-5 hours, until the meat is fork tender. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer; it should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

After you've removed the meat from the pan, heat the pan on the stove and add chicken stock or water. Simmer the juices, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan, to make a pan sauce to serve over the meat.

Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker

Season the meat, then brown it in a soup pot or dutch oven until the entire surface has browned. Avoid burning the browned bits at the bottom of the pot.

Deglaze the pot with 1 to 2 cups of wine, beer, chicken stock or water, scraping up the browned bits as the liquid simmers.

Return the meat to the pot and simmer, covered, for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Alternatively, move the meat and liquid to a slow cooker and simmer for up to 8 hours on low. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer; it should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Traditional Barbecue

Use lump hardwood charcoal, if it's available, and packaged wood chips. Soak the chips in water, as per the package instructions, to keep them from catching fire. Follow the manufacturer's directions for lighting the charcoal and positioning the chips.

Position the roast on a rack over the charcoal after the grill temperature reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baste the meat periodically with a mixture of two parts cider vinegar to one part water, to which you may add salt and pepper, brown sugar and/or Worchestershire sauce to taste.

Add additional charcoal and soaked wood chips as needed to keep the grill at 225 degrees and maintain smoke.

Barbeque the meat for about 6 hours, turning it as needed to keep it from burning, until the meat is fork tender. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer; it should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shred the cooked meat with a fork and top with your favorite barbecue sauce, if desired.