Put your shoulder into it

Well, not exactly YOUR shoulder- pork shoulder.

I love pork shoulder for many reasons:

  • It’s cheap!  I paid $1.39/lb for the last one I bought, but I often can find them for $0.99/lb.
  • It’s easy!  It doesn’t need a lot of prep.
  • It’s versatile!  Once cooked it can be used as an ingredient in many ways.
  • It’s delicious!  It does have some fat on it, but as a result is super tasty.
Pork shoulder

Pork shoulder is one of those cuts that needs to cook a long time.  Unless you’re good with the pressure cooker, don’t even think about pulling a shoulder out of the fridge an hour before dinner time!  I either slow roast it in the oven for 3-4 hours at 275F degrees or put it in the crock pot.  Either way, I simply season it with some salt and pepper and then let time and heat do the work.  Cook it long enough so that it’s tender.  A good test is to try to pick it up by the bone- the meat should practically fall off.  So now that you have this cooked shoulder, what do you do with it?

Meal #1: BBQ Pulled Pork and slaw wraps

My inspiration for this was a southern bbq pork and slaw sandwich.  I don’t like the sweet and sour taste of most slaws so I make my own with no sugar or vinegar.  Mine has a much fresher, lighter taste.  I’ll do a future write up on my many variations of slaw.  I also don’t like all the sugar you get from commercial bbq sauce so I make my own.  Pulled pork is best with a sauce of mostly vinegar anyway.  The vinegar really helps cut the richness of the pork.  Whole grain tortillas took the place of white buns.

I took a hunk of the pork and shredded it with a fork.  Don’t cut it first because you want long, stringy fibers.  I added some homemade BBQ sauce consisting of ketchup, cider vinegar, onion and garlic powder, liquid smoke and a bit of stevia to make it a little sweeter.  A minute in the microwave and it was tasty BBQ pulled pork.  I made a really simple fresh slaw of red and green cabbage sliced very thinly with a bit of mayo, cream, celery salt and pepper.  My wife had the whole thing rolled into a burrito shape, while I turned the same ingredients into taco-shaped things using two smaller tortillas.  (Sorry, no pics for this one.)

Fried pork

Meal #2: Pork with quinoa pilaf

The wonderful texture of carnitas was an inspiration for this.  I love the soft, tender pork with crisp, chewy edges.  The ingredients were just what I had on hand, which is the way my recipes often come together.  This took all of about 10 minutes to come together.

I cut the pork into chunks and then fried it in a nonstick skillet until it was hot and sizzling.  The longer you cook it, the crisper the edges will get.

Pork with quinoa

I already had some cooked quinoa in the fridge.  I microwaved it for a minute with fresh garlic, green onions and bit of butter and salt to turn it into a very tasty and low glycemic pilaf.  A little cheese and my homemade habanero hot sauce on the pork and it all came together into a very tasty breakfast. mmmm….

This is just a tiny fraction of the variations of things you could make with a pork shoulder.  Here are some more ideas…

  • My dad is from China and used to cook a shoulder and eat it with a dipping sauce of 1/2 soy sauce and 1/2 sesame oil.  There’s also a chinese green onion and ginger sauce that would go well.
  • Fry it up and use it as carnitas.  You could add a tiny bit of orange juice and oregano into the pan to add the hint of mexican flavors traditionally used for carnitas.
  • Put on a cuban sandwich along with ham, pickles and cheese.  Fry the whole sandwich with a weight on it, like a panini.

I hope this gives you some ideas for creations of your own.  Post a comment and tell us what you did with your shoulder!

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