Chef John's Best Pork Shoulder Recipes
Pork shoulder isn't in any particular hurry. It loves a low and slow, moist cooking. Braise it, roast it, pop it in the slow cooker, and as long as you give it enough time, pork shoulder always comes out super tender and ever so succulent. The meat just falls away. Chef John has mastered this particular cut of meat. And we can't get enough of his top-rated recipes for porchetta, pulled pork, agrodolce, chile verde, pork braised with cider, creamy pork stew, and much more. Here are some of our very favorite Chef John Recipes for pork shoulder.
Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder
"Chunks of pork shoulder cook low and slow in an apple cider sauce until perfectly tender and sauce has thickened," says Chef John. "This is delicious served over spaetzle or buttered rice. I kept things very simple here, so feel free to add extras like carrots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and other fall veggies, if you like. There's really no way to screw up a dish like this. Unless, of course, you stop cooking it before it's done."
Chef John's Pork al Latte
You'll slowly simmer beautifully browned chunks of pork shoulder in crème fraiche and chicken broth, along with bacon until it's melt-in-the-mouth tender. The sauce is rich and luxurious. "When the weather gets a little colder, this pork stew really hits the spot," says Chef John. "Serve on polenta with crisp sage leaves for garnish."
"Agrodolce, a generic Italian term for any type of sweet and sour condiment, really shines when used for braising chunks of succulent pork shoulder," says Chef John. His version of agrodolce features tomato paste, balsamic and white vinegars, honey, red chili flakes, rosemary, and anchovy. "This soul-warming comfort food is amazing served on rice, pasta, polenta, or, as seen here, a big pile of ricotta mashed potatoes."
Pork Chili Verde (Green Pork Chili)
You'll brown pieces of pork shoulder with onions and seasoned with dried spices. Then simmer with a spicy, garlicky tomatillo sauce. "This chili verde was one of the first recipes I ever learned," says Chef John. "It comes out great even if you don't brown the meat, but I think doing so always adds extra flavor so I usually do it."
Creamy Pork Stew
Pork shoulder is browned and slowly simmered in apple cider, cream, and fresh herbs. Add carrots, celery, and green peas and let everything simmer until the sauce reduces and the pork is tender. "This creamy pork stew is one of my favorite cold weather dishes of all time," says Chef John. "You can add squash, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mushrooms, root vegetables--it's quite versatile. And if pork isn't your thing, this would be lovely with veal, beef, or chicken thighs. Serve on steamed rice, mashed potatoes, or noodles."
Chef John's Pulled Pork BBQ
"Use your favorite dry rub and barbeque sauce to make this succulent pork," says Chef John. "A little trick I like is to put 2 ramekins with liquid smoke flavoring in with the meat and roast it slowly. Do your patriotic American duty and serve this on the cheapest, lightest white hamburger buns you can find."
Chef John's Garlic-Studded Roast Pork
Here's an herby, garlicky roast pork served over white beans. You'll rub the pork shoulder with herbs and stud it with garlic cloves and then cook it...twice. First, in the oven, and then, thick slices of the roast are quickly seared in a skillet. You're left with perfectly concentrated flavors, terrific texture, and a beautifully browned crust. "Garlic-studded, herb-rubbed pork shoulder is such a great cut of meat," says Chef John. "I cooked it in a pan without liquid, without covering it, and without cooking it at a really low temperature. I didn't want it to be falling apart and wet; I wanted it to be solid, chewy and crusty."
Chef John's Irish Pork Stew
This tasty pork stew is flavored with dark stout beer, balsamic vinegar, and caraway seeds, and finish with the Brussels sprouts. It's the perfect partner for fluffy mashed potatoes! "I'm sure you've heard by now that corned beef and cabbage is not authentic St. Patrick's Day food," says Chef John. "I decided to do a little mash-up and this Irish pork stew with baby cabbage was the result. By the way, baby cabbage can be a little hard to find, but you can use Brussels sprouts, and no one will know the difference, mostly because there isn't one."
Chef John's Paper Pork Shoulder
"This 'paper pork' was inspired by a technique for smoking beef brisket that involves wrapping the meat in parchment paper after a certain point in the cooking process, in an effort to keep the meat moist and succulent," says Chef John. "I decided to try it for an oven-roasted pork shoulder, wrapping it from the beginning, and it came out so perfectly tender and juicy, I've been doing it that way ever since."
Chef John's Porchetta
Here's Chef John's simplified version of traditional Italian porchetta, with boneless pork shoulder and a flavorful stuffing seasoned generously with herbs, orange zest, and garlic. You'll serve your pork with a spicy vinegar and parsley sauce. "It makes a great sandwich, especially topped with some fried, crispy pancetta," says Chef John
Penang Pork Satay
So many flavors combine here -- spicy, sweet, tangy, and super savory -- including fresh turmeric, ginger, shallots, cilantro, tamarind, fish sauce, vinegar and two kinds of chili powder. "I'm not exactly sure how much pork satay they eat in Penang, but I'm confident that your average pork-loving Malaysian would enjoy this explosive combination of flavors," says Chef John. "Use a fairly large chunk of pork, because it doesn't take long to develop that beautifully brown, crusty exterior on the grill. Or in a broiler turned to high. Or in the oven at 500 degrees! Serve over rice with peanut sauce and cucumber salad."
Chef John's Pork and Beans and Greens
Here's Chef John's Italian twist on beans and greens. Crusty, caramelized roast pork and white beans are sauteed briefly with sliced garlic and fresh arugula. "Simple and DELICIOUS!" raves MrsDash. "Pork had lovely flavor and greens were bright and flavorful. Absolutely loved it."
Chinese Barbeque Pork (Char Siu)
The secret here is a Chinese barbeque sauce that combines hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, Chinese wine, crushed garlic, Chinese 5-spice, and cayenne pepper. "In addition to its impressive high-gloss appearance and savory taste, this Chinese barbeque pork is quite easy to make at home--even without a fancy ceramic grill," says Chef John.
Roast Pork with Blueberry Port Sauce
Now here's a pork shoulder recipe that goes against type. It's more of a classic roast. And since pork shoulder is less expensive than pork loin, and way more succulent, it's a win-win. Chef John says, "Pork shoulder is almost always cooked until fork-tender, which, to your average cook, means 'falling apart.' But sometimes I want something different." Try the very berry-friendly port sauce with blackberries, huckleberries, or raspberries, too.