8 Hour Slow-Braised Pork Shoulder

Serves a crowd

Pork shoulder meat is the perfect sweet, fatty meat for making pulled pork- the end result of this recipe. You can cook it in the oven (as I do here), on a grill, in a slow cooker, or in a smoker. No matter what you do, when you cook it long enough it will turn into tender, tasty goodness.  Cook it too long and it will melt in your mouth, too little and you can cut it into slices.  But when it is perfect, just pull it apart into long shreds, pile it on a bun, and, if you have it, add some coleslaw and chow down -which is what we do.

Pulled pork, another regional American dish that has spread all across the country; is found everywhere from barbecue joints, to fast food and family-meal chains, to urban farm-to-table restaurants.  The recipe originated in the South and the Southwest, with each region having its own claim to the authentic one.  Some do the whole hog, some just the shoulder, some mixed parts of the pig.  The sauce might be a tomato-based barbecue-style, vinegar-based, or yellow mustard-based.  Mine is just a mix of the seasonings and reduced that the meat has cooked in.  On a drinking note, I always cook with the same beer I’m going to drink, and you should also.  This assures that the flavors of the meat and the cold beer are harmonious.


12- to 16-pound pork shoulder (see Note)
About 6 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons ground chipotle chile powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
3 cups beer or ale, plus more if needed


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (300ºF).
2. Lightly coat the meat with about 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.
3. Combine the salt, chile powder, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano in a small bowl.
4. Using your fingers, rub about half of the spice mix and 2 tablespoons oil over the meat and rub into the meat well.
5. Turn the meat over and repeat the process over the bottom of the meat with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and spice mix.
6. Transfer the meat to a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven. Add the beer, cover, and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for 8 hours, checking from time to time to make sure there is still a bit of moisture in the pan. ( If not, add no more than ½ cup of liquid (either water or additional beer) and continue cooking until the meat almost falls apart when you pierce it with a fork.)
7. Let pork rest for about 15 minutes. Then, using a kitchen fork, pull the meat apart into shreds, discarding any pockets of fat that appear as you shred. 8. Serve, as is with coleslaw and potato salad, or on soft rolls as a sandwich.