Matilda, Maple, and Garlic Pork Shoulder with Crispy Skin

By • April 1, 2010 • 190 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.
A&M

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 cups 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.
Jump to Comments (190)

Comments (190) Questions (8)

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16 days 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.

Stringio

16 days 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

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5 months ago David Culp

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

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5 months 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!

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6 months ago jsandy

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

Stringio

6 months ago Elizabeth Brailey Sobliros

Do you cover this ..?

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6 months ago [email protected]

When I saw this I had to try it. Low & slow is the normal way to do pork shoulder or butt when doing on a smoker but usually at 250 to 275 deg. Not sure this is proper but here is a link to the one I did with a lot of photos.
http://pelletsmokercooking...
Thanks Ed for the recipe it was worth doing. Don

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6 months ago Cydneyroach

After searching for the bone-in shoulder with the skin still on, the butcher at Whole Foods told me to go to the Hispanic grocery store (Fiesta here in Dallas). And I found exactly what I was looking for!

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7 months ago Adonia Larson

should I put a lid on it?

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7 months ago mara lepri

why is the book so charmingly revolting?

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8 months ago jamie munal

4 in Texas

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8 months ago StevenHB

Seems like this ought to serve a lot more than 4-8.

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8 months ago cookinalong

Malinda, there are some great pressure cooker recipes for this, and some are on the web. Try the website Dad Cooks Dinner or MissVicky's site. The first has some good recipes, the second lots of good advice about pressure cooking. And if you can get a copy of Lorna Sass's Cooking Under Pressure, you're on your way. Good luck. I love my pressure cooker!

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8 months ago StevenHB

How would a pressure cooker get the skin crisp? The shatteringly crisp skin is a key feature of pernil, of which this seems to be a variant.

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8 months ago cookinalong

It wouldn't. I think Malinda was just wondering if this cut could be prepared in a pressure cooker. It can, but obviously, since it's a radically different cooking method, the results are not going to be the same. It was off topic. Sorry if I colored outside the lines!

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6 months ago rob weaver

the long, low temp cooking melts away the connective tissues that makes the very tough piece of meat very tender. a pressure cooker will cook the meat but you'll still have a tough one to deal with.

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8 months ago Malinda Barrett

I know that this a low and slow recipe, but I just bought my first pressure cooker, and wonder if I could do this in the exact opposite way? Have saved some recipes for the pressure cooker already, but would really like to make this...

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8 months ago Sarah Hanson

I am making this for my husband's birthday, and there are just the two of us, so I got. 3-lb roast. Should I shorten the cooking time or still let it go the full 18 hours?

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8 months ago Angel

I would probably shorten it, but I unfortunately do not know what to shorten it to. you'll have to keep an eye on it.

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8 months ago cookinalong

I'm with Angel. You definitely have to shorten the time. I would think the safest thing would be to judge by internal temp. However, I am surprised you managed to find a bone-in roast that was only 3lbs. Sometimes the bone itself is about 2 lbs! I would not try this recipe with a boneless pork roast, so double check what kind of roast you have.

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3 months ago rhonda

why would a boneless not be good with this recipe? I could only find boneless...so I bought it..now have to cook it. It is also double the size...so suggestions?

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8 months ago jamie munal

Sad, I wouldn't have believed it until you said it. My experience was with brown outs. It's back to wood burning stoves.

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8 months ago cookinalong

Jamie, don't start chopping wood just yet! I think the problem I experienced is limited to the older gas stoves without electronic ignition. Other people who have used newer gas ovens seem to have had good results. The person who posted the recipe developed it using a gas oven. Bottom line, I suggest if you have doubts that you give yours a trial run as I did with mine. If the fire stays lit, you're OK.

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8 months ago jamie munal

I'm actually retrying this recipe this weekend... It will not defeat me.. LOL... I have a generator now.

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8 months ago cookinalong

Just updating on my experience with my ancient gas oven. As I feared, the pilot light does not stay reliably lit at temps lower than 275-300. I did a trial run with an empty oven on Friday PM and after about 1 hour at 225, I checked on it and the flame had gone out, with the gas still escaping. Not good. I shut it off, opened the windows for a few hours and tried again at 250. Same result. I didn't want to risk trying again since it was getting near bedtime. I'm disappointed I won't be able to try this recipe, because it looks wonderful, bit hope this info is helpful as a cautionary tale for others with ancient gas ovens! On the bright side, I'm hoping to use this info to convince my landlord to upgrade the kitchen to the 20th Century. I fear asking him to come all the way to the 21st might be stretching it!

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8 months ago Cade

Oh, I have to weigh in on this recipe. I was verrrrryyyy skeptical. But what the heck, it was Super Bowl Sunday, my local Mexican grocery store had an 8 pound bone-in pork shoulder with thick skin for 15 bucks, and I thought, I'll try it. I went to Trader Joe's and got a local brew there. I even used Grade A syrup and cider vinegar instead of malt vinegar. I started it at 9:30pm on Saturday night. The one thing I wish I would have done is for the initial 450 cook for 30 minutes, it would have helped to put foil down. The fat side of the roast stuck to the pan like super glue! But I got it off, turned it over and turned the oven to 200. Woke up the next morning, shut oven off, turned it back on right away at 200 (in case it had an auto shut off). At 2:30pm on Sunday, turned it to 170, the lowest. At 4:30pm, I cranked it up to 450. Ate at 5:15. Freaking amazing recipe. Delicious. DELICIOUS. Thank you!!!!!

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8 months ago maya

The favors were amazing but unfortunately 18 hours was too long. 13-14 would have been enough. Still tasted amazing and will just have to make it again :)

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8 months ago jamie munal

I trust gas over electricity.. When doing mine we had a brown out during the night.. I caught it but if I hadn't this meal would have not even started

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8 months ago cookinalong

The thing I was worried about with the gas is the possibility of the flame going out and the gas continuing to flow, especially with the very low temp called for. I agree electric is vulnerable to power outages, but a gas oven maintains temp by cycling on and off as needed & I guess what worries me is that it the gas might go on without the flame. I've got a really old oven, not one of the newer electronic ignition type. This evening I'm planning to test-drive the low heat scenario while we're all awake, just to make sure it goes off without a hitch. Thanks to all for your advice.

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8 months ago ENunn

Good luck, cookinalong. I'm sure it will be fine. I'm sorry not everyone was taking your questions seriously. I think @boomdog02 is here for reasons that don't have much to do with cooking! Who knows? I hope it works out. If not, feel free to send me a direct message with questions.

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8 months ago cookinalong

Thanks! I'm confident that a girl from South Carolina knows whereof she speaks on the subject of pork! I'll report back on the oven experiment.