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23 Delicious Ways To Cook A Pork Shoulder

It's cheap, it's tender, and it's so much easier to cook than you think. Basically, it's just a matter of setting your oven really low and having the strength to walk away.

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There are actually two different cuts that get called pork shoulder: "Boston butt" and "picnic shoulder."

If you can, stick to the "Boston butt" cut. It's more common in supermarkets, and it's what most recipes call for.

Boston butt — also called Boston shoulder — is a fairly inexpensive piece of meat that comes from the top of the pig's shoulder. It has lots of juicy, marbled fat, which keeps it tender during cooking. Often, it is sold without the bone (bone-out), which makes it easier to cut and serve, but some people opt for bone-in Boston butt, since the bone adds flavor. Usually, a recipe will indicate whether the cut should be bone-in or bone-out.
sugarmtnfarm.com

Boston butt — also called Boston shoulder — is a fairly inexpensive piece of meat that comes from the top of the pig's shoulder. It has lots of juicy, marbled fat, which keeps it tender during cooking. Often, it is sold without the bone (bone-out), which makes it easier to cut and serve, but some people opt for bone-in Boston butt, since the bone adds flavor. Usually, a recipe will indicate whether the cut should be bone-in or bone-out.

BUT, if you can only find a "picnic shoulder," feel free to substitute.

The picnic shoulder cut has less fat and more connective tissue than the Boston butt, meaning it needs long time to make it tender. Most pork shoulder recipes have long cooking times anyway, though, so using a picnic shoulder is fine. The major difference is that picnic shoulders have a huge bone down the middle; it adds flavor, but you'll have to cut around it to serve.
sugarmtnfarm.com

The picnic shoulder cut has less fat and more connective tissue than the Boston butt, meaning it needs long time to make it tender. Most pork shoulder recipes have long cooking times anyway, though, so using a picnic shoulder is fine. The major difference is that picnic shoulders have a huge bone down the middle; it adds flavor, but you'll have to cut around it to serve.

1. Bo Ssam, Momofuku Style

At David Chang's Ssam Bar, this dish will set you back $250. Make it at home for a fraction of the price; it's really not that hard! Recipe here.
kitchen72.com

At David Chang's Ssam Bar, this dish will set you back $250. Make it at home for a fraction of the price; it's really not that hard! Recipe here.

2. Sichuan Noodle and Pork Shoulder Soup

A seriously rich, flavorful soup for occasions when chicken noodle just won't do. Recipe here.
Ariana Lindquist / saveur.com

A seriously rich, flavorful soup for occasions when chicken noodle just won't do. Recipe here.

3. Peachy Pork-A-Bobs

You don't always have to roast the shoulder whole; cutting it into cubes and grilling individual skewers of meat is quicker and equally delicious. Recipe here.
nomnompaleo.com

You don't always have to roast the shoulder whole; cutting it into cubes and grilling individual skewers of meat is quicker and equally delicious. Recipe here.

4. Braised Pork Ragu

For the extreme beginner, this is near-impossible to screw up. Recipe here.
dinneralovestory.com

For the extreme beginner, this is near-impossible to screw up. Recipe here.

5. Braised Pork Shoulder

Simple is always a good way to go. Recipe here.
marthastewart.com

Simple is always a good way to go. Recipe here.

6. Pork Shoulder Roast with Citrus Mojo and Green Sauce

Recipe here.
Con Poulos / foodandwine.com

Recipe here.

7. Pork Shoulder Braised with Apples

Recipe here.
Romulo Yanes / bonappetit.com

Recipe here.

8. Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos

Pulled pork tacos > fish tacos > ground beef tacos > chicken tacos. Fact. Recipe here.
Christopher Baker / bonappetit.com

Pulled pork tacos > fish tacos > ground beef tacos > chicken tacos. Fact. Recipe here.

9. Pork Shoulder Braised in Milk

Recipe here.

10. Chile Verde

A pretty edgy twist on classic Super Bowl chili. Recipe here.
Penny de los Santos / saveur.com

A pretty edgy twist on classic Super Bowl chili. Recipe here.

11. Shortcut Smoked Pork Shoulder

Slow roast the shoulder before smoking, and you'll get a similar flavor in far less time. Recipe here.
marthastewart.com

Slow roast the shoulder before smoking, and you'll get a similar flavor in far less time. Recipe here.

12. Pork, Apple, and Cider Pie

WARNING: recipe is written in British, without a translator. Recipe here.
spicyicecream.com.au

WARNING: recipe is written in British, without a translator. Recipe here.

13. 6-Hour Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

All that time in the oven makes for some seriously crispy skin. Recipe here.
jamieoliver.com

All that time in the oven makes for some seriously crispy skin. Recipe here.

14. Porchetta Style Roast Pork Shoulder

Traditionally a pork loin rolled inside of a pork belly, porchetta works well with pork shoulder, as well. Just make sure to buy a skin-on cut. Recipe here.
kneadforfood.com

Traditionally a pork loin rolled inside of a pork belly, porchetta works well with pork shoulder, as well. Just make sure to buy a skin-on cut. Recipe here.

15. Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

It's amazing what good Hawaiian sea salt, three slices of bacon (just three!), a little garlic, and a slow cooker can do. This may be the most delicious pork shoulder I've ever tasted. I suggest using a bone-in pork shoulder for maximum perfection. Recipe here.
nomnompaleo.com

It's amazing what good Hawaiian sea salt, three slices of bacon (just three!), a little garlic, and a slow cooker can do. This may be the most delicious pork shoulder I've ever tasted. I suggest using a bone-in pork shoulder for maximum perfection. Recipe here.

16. Crockpot Pulled Pork Chili

Recipe here.

17. Pernil Asado

Low and slow, with an orange vinegar marinade. Recipe here.
Penny de los Santos / saveur.com

Low and slow, with an orange vinegar marinade. Recipe here.

18. Miso Braised Pork Shoulder

Recipe here.

19. Homesick Texan Carnitas

Taco fixin's recommended, but not required. Recipe here.
smittenkitchen.com

Taco fixin's recommended, but not required. Recipe here.

20. Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork

Sliders FTW. Recipe here.
justataste.com

Sliders FTW. Recipe here.

21. Cherry Roasted Pork Shoulder with Pickled Cabbage and Crudites

Dainty raw vegetables really add some finesse to a giant hunk of meat. Recipe here.
trnk-nyc.com

Dainty raw vegetables really add some finesse to a giant hunk of meat. Recipe here.

22. Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder Pasta

Recipe here.
Jenniver Olvera / seriouseats.com

Recipe here.

23. Matilda, Maple, and Garlic Pork Shoulder with Crispy Skin

Matilda is a fruity, malty ale made by Goose Island Brewery in Chicago. It's delicious and absolutely recommend it, but feel free to substitute another similar ale if it's unavailable. Recipe here.
James Ransom / food52.com

Matilda is a fruity, malty ale made by Goose Island Brewery in Chicago. It's delicious and absolutely recommend it, but feel free to substitute another similar ale if it's unavailable. Recipe here.

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