Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

One of my go-to dishes for casual crowd entertaining.

Serving Size: 10 to 12

Fall Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic / Katie Workman / themom100.com
I was talking with a friend about perfect meals for entertaining, and we went though the usual suspects: lasagnas, chili, tenderloins, and then he mentioned to me that his favorite  go-to entertaining dish was a pork butt or shoulder left in the oven so long at a very low temperature that it practically fell apart.

A cut of meat so flexible that the cooling time could be stretched by an hour, or three, and the roast wouldn’t be any worse for the wear.  A roast that could literally be plunked on the table whenever everyone was ready to eat.

He told me that long ago a chef has explained to him that meat likes to be cooked at around the temperature that it reached when it is done.

While I don’t think that is always the case at all (flame kissed steaks and burgers anyone?), it made nice sense when I thought about it in terms of a big tough hunk of meat, like this pork shoulder, which needs low and slow cooking to make it turn from impossibly tough to tender.  No amount of trying to rush the process will help, you’ve got to keep the heat low and the time long.

The best part?   This is free time you can spend reading, dancing, sleeping, cleaning a closet, saving kittens from trees.

You can leave the roast in the very low oven for another hour or two or even three with no repercussions.  If you feel like it needs a bit more browning or caramelization at the end, turn the heat up to 450°F. for 15 minutes before pulling it out of the oven, and then do make sure to let it rest for a bit so that the fibers can relax a bit, and the juices re-group.

And do know that if all has gone as planned, the meat will be so tender that the slices won’t hold together.  That’s part of the appeal.

You might serve this with some green beans, roasted potatoes, and a salad.  Leftovers make amazing quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, soups, stews, sandwiches, and so on.

Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

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  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 anchovies, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarse Dijon mustard
  • 1 6-pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and tied

1. In a small food processor combine the garlic, anchovies, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and process until it forms a paste, scraping down the sides. Remove the blade and use a fork or spoon to stir in the mustard. Rub the paste all over the pork shoulder, loosely cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate from 2 to 24 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 450°F and bring the pork to room temperature while the oven heats. Place the pork in a shallow roasting pan and roast, fat side down, for 30 minutes, until the top starts to brown a bit. Turn the heat down to 250°F and continue to cook for 6 to 8 hours until the middle of the roast registers 180°F. on an internal thermometer, and as you slide the thermometer in you can feel that the meat is very tender throughout. If there are juices in the pan (and I have found that sometimes there are and sometimes not so much) pour off the juices from the pan into a heatproof container, like a Pyrex measuring cup. Place this in the fridge, where the fat will rise to the top, while the meat rests.

3. When the meat is cooked, if you think that the outside of the roast could use a bit more crust/brownness, turn the heat back up to 450°F and let it cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, to give the outside a bit more of a crunchy texture.

4. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 20 minutes. Spoon the fat off the reserved juices in the fridge and pour the cooking juices into a serving pitcher or bowl (warm it a bit in the microwave or in a small pot if you like). Slice the pork as thinly or thickly as you like, knowing the meat will fall apart at least slightly. Sprinkle the sliced meat with a bit of salt before serving, and pass the pan juices on the side to drizzle over.

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