This meltingly tender Pork Roast is flavored with fennel, lemon and rosemary. You will not believe how incredibly easy it is to slow roast a pork shoulder. Just marinate in a simple herb, lemon and garlic mixture. Then cook it slowly in the oven to make the meat absolutely succulent!Jump to Recipe
I set about working on this slow roasted pork shoulder months and months ago. I fell in love with this easy technique over the summer, and I have been waiting for the holiday season to share a festive Italian inspired variation with you. I know it sounds complicated or intimidating, but honestly, there is really not much to it!
Tips for Slow-Roasting Pork Shoulder
- Use Pork Butt: Pork butt is not really the rear-end of the pig but rather the upper part of the shoulder. The actual rear-end is the ham.The pig is broken down into large sections or primals. You can see a drawing I did of them below. The mid section on top is the loin, and the under belly is the spare-ribs and belly (that’s where bacon is from.) The shoulder has two parts, the picnic shoulder on bottom and the shoulder butt. This Shoulder Butt or Boston Butt is the part of the pork that we’re going to use today. I chose the butt because you can get a nicer boneless roast out of it. I wanted this recipe to be as easy as possible. You’ll probably have to go to a good meat counter to get the right thing. Ask for a 4 ½ to 5 ½ pound boneless pork butt. I ordered mine in advance, and specified that I wanted heritage pork. I know it is more expensive, but I think it is really important to buy heritage. Not only is it more humane and more earth friendly, but the meat tastes better and often has better marbling.
- Marinate: Marinating the meat for 12 to 24 hours before slow roasting the pork will make the meat taste very savory and reminiscent of Italian Porchetta. I used a combination of lemon, grated garlic, fennel seeds and rosemary. I like to use a 2-gallon Ziploc to minimize the mess, but you can do this covered in a large bowl or casserole dish, and keep it refrigerated.
- Roast Low and Slow: Pork butt is naturally very tough, but if it is cooked slowly it will become very tender. The meat comes from a part of the animal that does a lot of work and has a lot of connective tissue, so that means that the roast needs time. What happens is the natural collagen in the meat will break down into gelatin. In other words, pork will get tender after cooking slowly at a low temperature for a long time. The key is to not do it so fast that the meat seizes and thus squeezes out the moisture. In a home kitchen, a 300 degree oven is just right. Depending on your roast the meat can take any where from 5 to 7 hours.
- Test for Doneness: To test for doneness it’s all about feel. Start checking if the meat is done at 5 hours. The way I do this is with a fork. I just push the fork down into the meat as far as it will go, then pull it out. If it meets any resistance, the pork roast can probably cook a little longer.
- Rest the meat: I found that there was a really broad range of how long this took to cook, and there was no rhyme or reason to when it would take 5 ½ hours and when it would take 7 hours. If you are worried about planning out your holiday meal to start at a specific time, the good news is that this slow roasted pork shoulder will rest really well for as long as you need it to. If you happen to have a cooler, that’s a great place to keep it nice and warm. Wrap it in foil, then place it into the cooler, and swaddle it with clean kitchen towels for more insulation. I know this sounds strange, but this is actually really effective. At a minimum rest the meat 15 to 30 minutes tented with foil.
Brown Rice and Sweet Potato Salad
More Recipe Ideas and Further Reading
My favorite way to make Broccoli Rabe is with garlic and anchovies and would make my heart sing to eat with this pork.
This Baked Polenta with Mushrooms from Food and Wine would be phenomenal with this recipe.
Read more about pork butt from BBQ expert Steven Raichlen.
To read more about why you should choose heritage pork read Barry Estabrook’s awesome book Pig Tales. Or listen to it on audio book!
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Fennel, Lemon and Rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic finely grated
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fennel seed
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4.5 pound to 5.5 boneless pork butt
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cup chicken broth divided
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Mix garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, fennel seed, thyme, salt, pepper and rosemary in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over the pork and inside where the bone was removed. Tie the roast together with butcher twine. Place pork in a 2 gallon x-large re-sealable bag or in a baking dish. Seal bag or cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Coat the rack with cooking spray. Remove the pork from the bag or baking dish and set on the rack, skin side up. Roast until the pork is very tender when tested with a fork, if the meat gives away very eaily then it is tender. Furthermore the roast will reach an internal temperature of 180-185 degrees, 5 to 7 hours. Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest 15 to 30 minutes. Or rest longer wrapped in foil and swaddled in a cooler.
While pork rests, remove rack from the roasting pan. Pour excess pork fat off into a dish or can to discard. Add wine to the roasting pan. Set roasting pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer while scraping up browned pieces from the pan. Add 1 cup broth and return to a simmer. Whisk cornstarch with the remaining ½ cup broth and drizzle into the simmering broth mixture in the pan. Bring to a boil while whisking and simmer until desired consistency, 2 to 4 minutes. Strain into a gravy boat.
Remove twine. Shred or slice the pork and serve with the sauce.
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