pork shoulder

Back in the day, some time in early spring, I would buy a package of two humongous pork shoulders and make porchetta from a recipe that ran in The Washington Post. Fennel seed, rosemary, crushed black peppercorns, and a few more seasonings — oh the flavor. Divvied up and frozen, we ate well until late fall on a one-time cooking event. The recipe includes a good BBQ-style sauce so pulled pork sandwiches were a summer staple.

If memory serves, the last time I made it, the meat was a bit tough. And slow-cooking, to state the obvious, eats up the whole day. Finally decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

Recently the hubs was watching Steven Raichlen smoke pork shoulder and, well, before you can say ‘add the wood chips,’ there’s a familiar package of meat on the counter. He went for the smoking method (on our tiny Smokey Joe Weber grill) and I used the oven method.

smoked shoulder

Mine cooked faster by more than an hour, but speed doesn’t win much here. The smoked shoulder (above) was noticeably more tender. We’ve been adding the BBQ sauce and enjoying pulled pork sandwiches. The hubs even tops it with Asian slaw – a little odd, perhaps, but it works.The flavor is stronger, more in-your-face, than the porchetta.

That flavor, flavor, flavor of the porchetta. I am definitely not a supertaster; generally the stronger the flavor, the better I like a food. This porchetta is an exception. It is quieter tasting (as opposed to mild), best served on its own. How to keep that flavor and get the meat tender. We rewatched Mr. Raichlen’s cooking technique, searched the interwebs, and decided (without debate) to lower the cooking temp (how low is still under debate), increase the cooking time and try again.

Now all we have to do is finish these two cuts first. . . It could be awhile.