Though my parents are immigrants, my brother and I were born and raised in the good ole’ U.S.A. Even so, we grew up eating a wide range of Chinese dishes. My mother proved infinitely adaptable, using whatever ingredients were on hand but always remaining true to what a ‘true chinese’ would find acceptable. When I told her that I was planning my pork shoulder entry, she couldn’t help but tell me how she would do it. As an adult, I have grown to do things my way….so I told her to buy her own pork shoulder and cook it herself! (The added side benefit of this plan was that I would get to eat it.) My mom would typically use a really fatty piece of shoulder, which I find to be too rich. Divine intervention favored my point of view when our butcher mistakenly gave her a skinless roast. My mom and I thus combined forces: she picked and combined the ingredients, and I used my method of roasting it. Hence the name “chinese-american.” My brother’s family came over to share in the feast. Amidst all the grandkids happily eating the juicy meat, my brother turned to me and said “We were really lucky growing up.” I couldn’t agree more. —monkeymom
Test Kitchen Notes
This pork shoulder has lots of layers: earthy mushrooms, salty soy sauce, sweetness from the sugar. The sauce at the end is a great combination of flavors. The technique of browning meat and then marinating it overnight seems a little strange, but it does let you cook the onions and ginger for the marinade in the pork fat and it gives you the option to take it slow or speed the recipe up if you are short on time. The meat came apart easily, but it wasn't quite as juicy as I would have liked. For an even more tender roast, I'd try with an untrimmed piece of shoulder. - Stephanie —The Editors
- Serves 8
4 1/2 pounds
pork shoulder (boneless, trimmed of skin and fat)
onion, sliced thinly
shallot, sliced thinly
garlic cloves, chopped
shiitake mushrooms (other types can be substituted)
sweet rice wine (shao-xing wine, dry sherry or sake can be substituted)
- An important first step is to tie the pork shoulder roast. This will help keep the meat from falling apart. You can ask your butcher to do this for you. Using a long knife, insert knife into pork shoulder in several places all around roast. This will help the marinade penetrate the meat.
- In a large Dutch oven (or heavy oven-proof pot with a lid) heat the cooking oil. Add ginger and brown sugar and sauté for 1-2 minutes. This flavors the oil and melts the sugar. Add the pork shoulder and brown it on all sides. Remove pork from pot.
- Add onion and mushrooms to pot. Saute until onions are soft and slightly browned. Add garlic and sauté briefly, then wine and soy sauce. Heat and stir to mix.
- Return the browned pork shoulder to the pot. Turn pork over to coat well with marinade. Pile mushrooms and onions on top.
- You can continue straight to roasting here, but letting the pork sit in the refrigerator 3 hours to overnight will help the flavors penetrate the meant. Turn occasionally if you can. Let refrigerated pork roast sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Cover top of pot with foil and cover with lid. Roast for 3-3 ½ hours. Check the roast once every hour and turn it over. Baste the roast with juices that accumulate in pot.
- For a crustier outside layer, remove pot from oven and turn up the oven to 400 degrees. Transfer roast fat side up to sheet pan lined with foil. Take 3 Tbsp of juices from pot and combine with 2 Tbsp brown sugar. Spread all over top of roast and return to oven for 15 minutes until sugar has caramelized, but not burned.
- Let roast rest out of the oven for 15 minutes before serving. Decant sauce to fat separator or smaller bowl to remove fat, if desired. Remove roast to serving platter, cut and remove strings, then cut meat into thick slices across the grain of the meat. Drizzle roast pork with sauce and serve extra sauce along side. Serve with white rice.