Spicy, sweet and succulent, this slow roasted pork recipe is definitely one for the ages. It's made with boneless pork shoulder (sometimes also called a Boston blade roast or Boston butt).
First, we smear the roast with a spice rub made from dried chiles, brown sugar, Kosher salt and a few other ingredients. Then we roast it—initially at a very high temperature to brown the exterior, then finish it at a very low temperature, to break down the connective tissues and maximize juiciness.
What makes it foolproof? The secret is that by using a digital probe thermometer, we take all the guesswork out of getting the temperature right. Simply insert the probe into the deepest part of the roast, set the target temperature to 140 F, then just wait for it to beep when it's time to take it out.
As long as you insert the tip of the probe into the very center of the roast, and take care not to hit bone (which isn't a factor here since we're doing a boneless pork shoulder), the technique is foolproof.
By the way, if you're thinking to yourself, "Wait, I thought we had to cook pork to 160 F," that was before 2011 when the USDA changed their recommended target temperature for cooking pork to 145 F. Which is great, because 160 F was always too high. You can read more about that here: How to Cook Pork (Without Overcooking it)
This technique will also work for a smaller roast. We tested this recipe on a 3-pound pork shoulder, and the only adjustment required was to shorten the initial high-temperature roasting time by five minutes, from 20 minutes down to 15. Everything else stays the same.
A smaller roast won't need as much of the spice paste, of course, but you might as well mix up the full amount.
- 3 1/2 to 4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast
- 1 tbsp. dried crushed red peppers
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Kosher salt (NOT sea salt or table salt)
- 1 tsp. ground white pepper
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Preheat oven to 500 F.
- Mix all the ingredients together (everything but the roast itself) in a small bowl to form a paste. Smear it all over the roast. (You might have some left over, depending on the size of your roast.)
- Place the seasoned pork shoulder in a roasting pan with a rack and transfer it to the oven. Roast at 500 F for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 250 F and cook until your probe thermometer reads 140 F, which will take another 2 hours or so. The exterior of the roast will be a beautiful brown color.
- Remove the roast from the oven, cover it loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes, during which time the temperature will continue to rise until it reaches the target temperature of 145 F. Then slice, serve, and enjoy, while marveling at its perfect juiciness.