Roasted Pork Shoulder


I recently read Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, published in 2017, called At My Table.

It didn’t seem to grab me like her previous 87 books, or however many she’s churned out over the years, but then, after I was done, I realized how many recipes I bookmarked.

The recipes weren’t terribly fancy, but that’s not her style in the first place. And it seemed like half of the dishes were sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, like she’d been studying Ottolenghi’s cookbooks at the time of writing hers.

But again, I did bookmark a lot of recipes. And the first I wanted to make was her roasted pork shoulder. Why you may ask? It’s because when I cook with pork shoulder or butt, I’m usually making chile verde or pulled pork in the slow cooker. This pork shoulder is roasted in the oven.

To quote Ms. Lawson about her recipe: “As far as I’m concerned this is the easiest route to a lazy weekend feast.”

What I didn’t realize, was how challenging it would be to find a boneless, skin-on pork shoulder. I even called D’Artagnan and Lobel’s in New York City.

So I bought a de-boned pork shoulder (I even got resistance from the butcher for that request) and covered it on one wide with pork rind that I purchased from a different butcher.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
With caramelized garlic and ginger

2 heads garlic
5.5 pounds boneless and skin-on pork shoulder
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon raw unfiltered apple cider

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut off the tops of the 2 heads of garlic, so that you can just see the cloves peeking through, and sit each scalped head of garlic, cut-side up, on a piece of foil large enough for you to be able to pull up the ends and scrunch them together to form a parcel.

Put both parcels in the hot oven and roast for 45 minutes, by which time the cloves will be soft and caramelized, then remove from the oven and leave to cool, still wrapped in their foil parcels – this could take up to 3 hours.

Then, 7 1/2 hours before you want to eat, take the pork out of the fridge for about an hour to get the chill off it, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

While you wait, unwrap the two parcels of garlic, and squeeze the bulbs to push the sticky caramelized cloves out into a bowl. Add the ginger, soy, and vinegar and mix together.

Sit the pork, skin-side up, and spread the garlic and ginger paste into the pocket where the bone was. If there’s any residue left in the bowl, you can smear this gently around the sides, but make sure you don’t let any get on the skin.

I cut some of the pork skin I purchased to fit the top of the shoulder. You can see it under the pork. I used a few ties of string to secure it once the paste was inside the pork.

Pour some freshly-boiled water into the bottom of a roasting pan, just to cover the base by about 1/4 inch. Flip over the pork so that the skin is on top and roast in the oven for 5 hours. I brushed a little peanut oil over the pork skin.

After these 5 hours, gently baste the sides of the pork with the juices that have collected in the pan, then leave to roast for another hour.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and turn the oven up to 425 degrees F. Patiently spoon the juices into a wide-necked heatproof pitcher and return the pork to the hot oven for 30 minutes until the skin has turned crunchy.

Transfer the pork to a board. Spoon off the fat from top of the intense meaty juices in the pitcher; this should leave you with about 1 cup of the gingery and garlicky gravy. Check to see whether you need to reheat these juices and if you do, just warm them in a saucepan.

Remove the crisp skin and break into pieces. I cut a quite creative triangle for artistic plating.

Then carve, shred, or pull apart the meat, as wished. I sliced, and in this photo you can see the roasted garlic-ginger paste. There was a slight pinkishness to the roasted pork that didn’t show up in my other photos.

Transfer to a warmed dish and pour the meat juices over it, to serve.

The sauce is absolutely delicious. I wish there were more of it.

I was quite impressed with this slow roasted pork – tender and delicious. The next time, I won’t worry about skin, and the last 30 minutes at 425 degrees F won’t be necessary.

I also didn’t realize how much pork rind/skin shrinks, so I should have trimmed it much larger than I did, but it was still a fun experiment.

70 thoughts on “Roasted Pork Shoulder

  1. I never knew you couldn’t get deboned pork shoulder with the skin on the the US. In Australia this is a common cut of pork available everywhere even supermarkets. I think you were brilliantly ingenious to create your own. I actually remove the skin and roast that separately because I think it crackles better. Your pork looks so moist and succulent!

    • Over the years it’s become really obvious to me how different butcher shops are in the U.S. as compared to Europe and obviously, Australia. Of course, I live in the Midwest, not on the coasts, which serve a more “sophisticated clientele. But I was surprised that when I called my favorite, most renowned butcher shops in NYC that they couldn’t help me out. I think that in the U.S., in general, our farms are further from the table then we’d like to think! But I persevered, in a roundabout way, and the pork did turn out impressively well. Nigella never fails.

  2. “…previous 87 books…” LOL. I love her simple stuff, the posh fru-fru not as much. I think to find the pork, I’d have to go straight to the farmer though. Looks wonderful!

    • That’s the problem I guess. Our farms are too detached from our tables and every thing in between. I don’t know any farmers.

  3. I’m not a fan of any but one of the ‘celebrity chefs’ and that is not Nigella but she does come up with an interesting recipe or two. Pork shoulder is no problem to get in UK, with skin on; the problem is finding it with a good layer of fat – minimum 1inch. Butchers say they cannot sell, thanks to the ‘health’ lobby, but if you can find it a simple roast with no additions is excellent. Even better in Romania where you can find with 2in or more of fat and extraordinary flavour. Their beef is rubbish though!

    • So interesting how butchers are different in different countries, but then, it is most likely because the health laws regulate differently!

    • I wouldn’t cal it elegant, sort of like a slice of roast beef I guess, but it definitely worked, and so much more tender than I expected.

  4. Ha ha! I’ve always been a fan of Nigela’s. Although I do only have one of her cook books (and not the other 86 ;-) ) and that’s probably one of her most famous, the Nigella Express one. Anyway, I drooled with my mouth and feasted with my eyes upon your step by step instructions for this lovely recipe Mimi. Alas, Lynne is not a fan of pork at all so unfortunately looking at the photographs and dreaming here is as far as I’ll get!

    • I understand completely. That’s what I have to do with other’s lamb recipes, as my husband won’t eat it! Oh well…. I just wait till friends come over!

    • I’ve never done the low and slow version, as I mentioned, and I’m impressed! I’d made a recipe previously with cracklings, and discovered they didn’t do much for me, but I still wanted to make the recipe as close to what it was supposed to be!

    • The marinade was excellent, but I’d double up for the sake of the sauce. Oh, well if you’re not roasting it, then it doesn’t matter – it’s a good paste. That exactly how I cook brisket and flank steak – 135 degrees for 48 hours.

    • Well I hope you can get this kind of boneless pork with fat and skin! I never knew it would be the hardest part of following the recipe!

  5. My family would love this recipe! I don’t cook roasts of any kind too often, so I need a good recipe! This looks like a winner. :-)

  6. Pork roast with crackling skin on. Yum and a favorite in our house. Here in Sweden 🇸🇪 it is no problem getting skin on pork. I was told that you can’t get skin on pork roast in the US do to some silly USDA regulations. Don’t know if that’s ture or not. Great idea to tie the skin on.

    • I’m sure that’s part of the problem… By the way, the Bush’s Beans dog – who was a golden retriever – was really a dog owned by Jay Bush, the grandson. He was named Duke, and they tried to use him in commercials, but he couldn’t act so they subbed with Sam. He died recently. I would have sworn either dog was an Irish Setter because they were so red. Anyway, listened to NPR yesterday on my way home all about Duke, and I remember you had memories of him!

  7. Your story of Nigella’s cookbooks sounds like me. I love the sound of her recipes, have bookmarked many and only tried a few. This roasted pork with the flavors of the roasted garlic and ginger looks amazing and I applaud your tenacity at finding pork skin. I would have just tried it without, though I’m sure the crispy skin is so delicious and adds texture.

    • I think the skin was the point, but honestly, I’ve made cracklings before and they’re not really my thing. Too crunchy or something. But it was fun trying to do it “right!”

  8. Interesting! I’ve never looked for skin-on, boneless pork shoulder. But I like your adjustments here. This sounds like a delicious and easy roasted pork recipe…bookmarked! :-)

    • Yeah, I have to say, I will be slow roasting again. Amazing tenderness, although the photos didn’t really show that.

    • Between the USDA laws and the FDA laws, we’re really restricted considering we’re a “progressive” country!

  9. I do love Nigella Lawson, her voice and accent always draws me in. I have not watched the Food Network in ages. Is she still on it, or does she have her own show? Wow, all that garlic, the pork shoulder had to have been a winner! Yumm!

    • Yes, it’s a great recipe. As far as I know, Nigella doesn’t have a show on American TV. But I’m not an avid food network watcher. She’s also articulate and funny, which draw me in!~

    • Thank you! It was fun trying to fake the skin, but I’d definitely slow roast a pork shoulder/butt again.

  10. Ooo, this is definitely my kind of recipe and with the cold weather here at the moment, is a perfect meal idea. I too battle to find cuts of meat I want and often have to request what I want cut.
    Have a beautiful day.
    :-) Mandy xo

  11. Just noticed your recipe for roasted pork shoulder… something I made last night more or less following the Serious Eats timing. Mine was bone-in, and there’s still plenty leftovers. Your version sounds excellent, too… for the next time!

    • (My previous time making one was in a slow cooker – no crispy skin that way! At any rate, I’ll be posting my recipe sometime late August as there are too many recent pork recipes on my blog.) But I DO want to try yours! – I will be getting half a pig from a local farm share sometime late summer, and this is one cut I want to repeat.

      • Wow! Half of pig. Very cool. Nigella’s recipe was very good, and to me the highlight wasn’t the skin, it was the paste and how well the pork turned out.

  12. Lovely Chef Mimi! I had the good fortune to meet the lovely Nigella Lawson a few years back when she was on her last book tour. She is very beautiful and a wonderful speaker….very generous and urbane… I love how she borrows on her knowledge of history and the arts. Where as I haven’t cooked a lot of her dishes, most of what I have is, as you say, uncomplicated but very tasty. Thanks for pointing out this one.

  13. Thank you for your pictures and insightful comments. Is the roasting time same if I were to double the size of the boneless pork shoulder?

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