Pork Shoulder is and will be a relative bargain compared to almost every other cut of meat. It's tough, requires long cooking times, and is huge and hard to manage. But this week at C-Town it’s approaching a whole new realm of cheapness. At $.79 a pound, you'll run out of people to feed before you'll come any where near the $10 mark. You’ll have to fight for it though. Sure it’s cheap, but it certainly doesn’t come neatly in fillets, or even semi-manageable hunks. The smallest one we could find at C-Town was an ounce over 10 pounds. And because it's wrapped in plastic, the butcher is not going to be of much use.
Now, before you start calculating how many pork sandwiches you’ll have to plow through to finish it, notice that the price is actually better than advertised. $.69 a pound. At at $6.91 for 10 odd pounds of meat, you’ll be hard pressed to find a cheaper meal. Oh, except for at the Met. As we were carrying home the 10 pound behemoth from the C-Town 20 minutes away, we noticed that the Met across the street had the exact same deal. So there is no reason not to jump in. But what to do with such a beast?
During the summer, this isn't really a problem. If you've got a grill, some beer, a few friends, and a hot day, smoking that sucker for 8 hours is about as fine an event as you can imagine. But it's best now to rely on the oven, and roasting is a perfectly acceptable alternative. While the meat isn't going to have the smoky goodness of your backyard dream, the oven will definitely suffice, especially if you tweak the cooking. You can do lots of things with the meat. We always think of pulled pork sandwiches, but this time we just had Chipotle on our mind, and their carnitas.
I can't claim the same kind of meat quality that Chipotle can. I bought this hunk at C-Town, and for $.69 a pound. I'm guessing this wasn't the most humanely raised pig in the lot. But that's not my battle. What I had to worry about was making this taste like that Mexican grill, which required a little research. Some called for braising, but I decided to go with roasting. This isn’t the exact same recipe, but it is relatively easy.
Cut off as much of the fat as you can; unfortunately there will be a great deal. Then rub minced onion and garlic all over it, and sprinkle on a tablespoon or so of salt and pepper. Place in a preheated oven at 300 degrees and roast for 4 to 5 hours or until the interior temperature is 160 degrees. Let it rest for 15 minutes before tearing it apart.
For pulled pork sandwiches you’d just shred it with two forks, add your favorite barbecue sauce, and be done with it. For carnitas, crank the oven up to 500, shred the pork into smaller chunks and place back in the roasting pan. Put in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the meat develops a crispy exterior. Remove when done and now it’s up to you and whatever you love in your burrito the most. We made a little corn salsa, black beans, and some sour cream.
Got a better method of dealing with pork shoulder? Let us know. We’re always looking for new ways.