Matilda, Maple, and Garlic Pork Shoulder with Crispy Skin

By • April 1, 2010 210 Comments

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Author Notes: My grandmother (yes, I'm mentioning my grandmother again) used to cook her ever-present, giant ham by sticking it in the oven and pouring ginger ale over it every once in a while, as if it had won the Super Bowl. I decided to use a bottle of Matilda beer, a lovely fruity malty ale made here in Chicago, by Goose Island, with maple syrup for some extra sweetness. You'll probably have to special order the rind-on cut; I had a hard time getting one in Chicago, a.k.a Meatland. Strange. The ponderously long cooking time was inspired by The River Cottage Meat Book, a book that I find charmingly revolting.ENunn

Food52 Review: WHO: ENunn is a writer in Chicago.
WHAT: A tender pork shoulder that is the definition of "slow and low" -- it cooks for 18 hours!
HOW: After mixing up the fennel and garlic marinade, the roast goes in the oven and requires little work save some intermittent basting.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Whether you love crispy skin or falling-apart meat, this showstopper has something for everybody.
The Editors

Serves 4 to 6 to 8

  • 6 to 8 pounds bone-in, skin on pork shoulder
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted, crushed
  • 14 pieces garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup grade b maple syrup
  • 1 big bottle of Matilda, or another malty fruity ale
  • 2 teaspoons malt vinegar
  1. After allowing the meat to come to room temperature, use a sharp knife to score the skin, making 1/2 inch stripes over entire surface. Preheat oven to 450. Toast fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat, until fragrant (3 minutes); crush using mortar and pestle, set aside. Place garlic and salt in empty mortar mortar and grind together to make a paste. Slowly add olive oil, then sprinkle in cayenne, black pepper, fennel.
  2. Rub about 1/3 of the paste over the skinless side of the meat, then place skin side down on a roasting pan in lower third of oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile stir the syrup and vinegar into the remaining paste.
  3. Turn the oven down to 225. Carefully flip the shoulder (use a clean towel), then use a rubber spatula to spread the remaining paste over the shoulder, pushing it into the scored skin.
  4. Return to oven and cook for 18 hours or longer (you can put it in the oven at bedtime and leave it in until you serve it as an early supper the next day, which is what I did; I just turned it all the way down to 150 for a couple of hours late in the afternoon), pouring 1/3 of the bottle of beer over it at several intervals, and basting with the drippings 2-3 times. Seriously. Before serving, turn up the heat to 450 for ten minutes if the skin is not crispy enough. Put it on a platter, and let people pull off pieces, like wild animals. They will fight over the skin.
  5. Serve with my Fresh Fennel and Red Pepper Chow-Chow (under "condiments"), and mashed sweet potatoes with apples. Leftover pork, Chow-Chow, and spicy mayo sandwich on ciabatta: very good idea.

More Great Recipes: Fennel|Pork|Entrees|Olive Oil

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Comments (210) Questions (8)


4 months ago hemptonv

Ridiculously good! The salty, sweet, savory, melt-in-your-mouth goodness! If my boys and husband don't like this, all the more for me.


4 months ago Virginia Hadam

To ENunn: Please include a recipe or guidance for mashed sweet potatoes with apples. That sounds delicious! Didn't see anything on this site or in previous comments. Thanks!


5 months ago Rebecca Mia

Anyone have a crockpot adaption for this recipe? Eager to try it but between working FT and school FT, won't have much time!


5 months ago Joeyman9

Made this last weekend, had a hunk of pork shoulder, almost eight pounds. Reduced the cooking time to Fifteen hours,thanks for the comments, basted with Dead Guy Rouge Ale. Whole Foods supplied the shoulder, no skin, just the normal amount of fat. Wasn't a problem. Moist, tender and absolutely delicious. Teamed the pork with Dead Guy BBQ sauce (from this website). Perfect match. Had some delicious store bought cole slaw, the table sounded like cows, everyone was "mooing" as they chew each forkfull. Will definitely be on our redo list. Yummy,


6 months ago lora789

Pork chop with mushrooms


6 months ago Paul R Grice

While cooking the shoulder do you cook it directly in the pan or on a rack in the pan?


8 months ago shone

I cooked this for Christmas dinner and my guest absolutely loved it. the skin was very crispy.
now im looking to try one with red wine instead of the malty ale


8 months ago JSykes

My husband and I followed this recipe to the letter, but did shorten the cooking time to about 15 hours (as some suggested) before turning up to crisp the skin. Overall we were really happy with the results but a little puzzled over a few things that weren't quite right: the skin turned very tough - hard and chewy, but not crispy. Nobody fought over it. :( Wondering if that was due to our shortening the cooking time or something else - overbasting? Also, we both agreed that the fennel seed was pretty powerful. Would consider using half the amount in the recipe next time. Anyone else find that to the the case or are we closet fennel haters? Overall, great recipe we'd love to do again with some tweaking!!


8 months ago cookinalong

I've made it 3 times now & agree about the shorter cooking time. I guess a lot depends on your oven and the size of the pork shoulder. As for the fennel, even though none of us are fennel haters, we found the taste a bit overwhelming, too. So the 2nd time I tried using less, but it was a bit bland. Third time I crushed only 1.5 tbs. instead of all 3 and that pleased all. The crisping issue is probably due to the shortened cooking time, but if you're longing for some of that crispy stuff, moving it to the broiler for a few minutes might do the trick.


9 months ago pearse

any substitution for Malt Vinegar? thanks


9 months ago Angel

I used balsamic in a pinch


9 months ago pearse

any substitution for Maple Syrup?thanks


9 months ago Angel

I think a substitution to the maple would alter the recipe significantly. I personally don't recommend it.


10 months ago chicagoem

I'm making this recipe with a 4lb cut. How should I adjust the cooking time? I'm 10 hours in and there is a LOT of liquid in the pan is that right? I've only added about 1/3 of the beer called for.


11 months ago Emma Brett

This was delicious, friends and family said it was the best pork they had ever tasted! I served it with braised red cabbage and Nigella Lawson's creamy potato gratin on the first day and we had leftovers with a winter coleslaw the following days. I was a bit nervous about cooking it for so long uncovered but followed the recipe exactly and it was perfect. I did have to remove some of the crust as it was burnt but the meat underneath was very tasty. I will make again but the really long cooking time adds to my electric bills so I won't be making it every week!


11 months ago Carol

I made this and loved it. My mom used to make beef roast with this method and a much lower temperature. It worked wonderfully and clearly it works for pork roasts too. And nice picture! That is what really got my attention to investigate this recipe. Now to try it at a slightly lower temperature for a smaller pork loin. Thank you for this addition to my recipe list.


11 months ago Kristen D.

This is a late post, but I made this for an Easter brunch. It came out FA_NOM_IN-NAL. Like AMAZINGLY GOOD. And, I had plenty leftover for the freezer. It froze great, and frankly didn't even last very long in there! Two warnings though: My oven had a 12 hour automatic shutoff, which happened to be at 2AM. Luckily, I woke up at 2:30 and decided to check on it, and saw it was off! Thank goodness, or I'd have had a ruined roast by morning! Second thing, is that my house first....but let me tell you, smell anything for 18 hours and it's going to start to stink. Luckily the other things I started to cook for the brunch the morning of masked some of it before the guests arrived. 18 hours is a long time, but I will do it again for another special occasion I think. Also, agreed with those below, I went to a Mexican meat market to find my cut of meat. None of the specialty grocery stores or butchers had it.


11 months ago Bryan Narendorf

We found this recipe to be underwhelming.


11 months ago ENunn

We only crafted this underwhelming dish to mask the aroma
of poems cooling on the window ledge. Thank you for not being "shy" about criticizing!


12 months ago Urbain Dubois

may work if you remove the bone and cut into smaller portions...this is just an off the cuff response. I am not sure this help you. Good Luck! I cooked beef short ribs last night and they were tender in around 3hours so just going on that.


12 months ago Lesley Turner

This may sound crazy, but is there a way to follow these steps, adjust the time a modification of this in say 2-3 hours? Like just cook it like a regular ham? it looks really good, but I have very limited time, and am trying to pull this together in a rush


over 1 year ago David Culp

Add the maple late in the process to avoid stinky drip-off burning action during the many hours of cooking.


over 1 year ago Andy

OMG My son just told me about this site. I have already emailed a recipe to my wife. This pork shoulder is driving me insane. I have made pork shoulder roast on my grill and it never looked this amazing! Cant wait to give it a whirl. 18 hours WOW!


over 1 year ago jsandy

I have a 4.5 pound boneless butt. Love the recipe - what modifications should I make to time/temp? Any suggestions?