Pulled pork is made from roasting pork shoulder until it falls off the bone – it takes about 5-7 hours for a joint weighing 1.2 kilos so plan ahead. You don’t have to cook the pork shoulder for that long. You can get a wonderfully tender meat that slices easily after 4 hours (see our instructions at the end of the recipe) but it won’t have the soft stretchy quality of ‘pulled pork’. Ask the butcher to score the skin so that it crisps up during cooking and becomes crackling.
Serves 6 with leftovers
1 pork shoulder on the bone weighing about 1.2 kilos
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
2 teaspoons dried oregano or thyme
1. Preheat the oven to 110C/230C/Gas 1/4.
2. Mix the olive oil with the salt, ground black pepper and dried oregano or thyme. Rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder.
3. Place the pork shoulder on a very large sheet of tin foil on a rimmed baking dish. Enclose the pork shoulder in the tin foil, skin-side up, sealing it in a tent so that it can steam.
4. Place the baking dish in the oven and roast the pork shoulder for 5 hours, then pull the tin foil back so the skin can burnish and cook for another 1-2 hours – the pork should reach an internal temperature of 94C or 200F. At this stage it should pull apart easily.
To cook the pork shoulder without making the meat ‘pull’.
This way of cooking pork shoulder gives you a tender joint that can be sliced easily. There is no need to wrap the joint in tin foil – you only need to cover the skin with tin foil if the skin is begins to scorch. Check it after a few hours.
1. Cook the pork shoulder at 150C/300F/Gas 2 for 4 hours or until the internal temperature reads 94C or 200F. You need the meat to reach that temperature so that it is really tender (you can actually cook pork safely at an internal temperature of 71C/160F but it will have a tenser structure).
How to make Pork Crackling
Sometimes the fat on the pork shoulder can become chewy rather than crispy when you roast the pork at a lower temperature. If that happens and you want crackling, remove the joint from the oven, slice away large pieces of fat, place them on a baking tray, skin-side up and roast at 200C/400F/Gas 6 until crisp (15-20 minutes but keep watch!).
How do you test the internal temperature of meat with a temperature probe?
Remove the meat from the oven when you want to check it. Press the probe into the thickest part of the meat at an angle, stopping before you hit bone (if you hit the bone you’ll get a false reading). Probe it in a few places to make sure it has reached the required temperature. It is better to err on the side of caution. You’ll find our Safe Cooking Temperature Chart here for beef, lamb, pork, poultry (chicken and turkey) and rabbit, and game birds including duck, partridge, pheasant and goose.
Built-in Oven Temperature Probes
In the gréatfood kitchen we use an oven with a built-in cooking probe which comes in handy when we are batch-testing recipes: you pop the cooking probe into the socket in the oven, press it into place on the meat or poultry, close the door and set the oven to cook the food until the temperature you set is reached, then the oven turns itself off. It’s great for slow-cooking because you can just leave the oven to roast the meat and once the correct internal temperature is reached, the oven turns itself off while you are doing something else (it tells you it’s finished with a beep). It’s well worth the money if you are investing in a new oven and cook a lot.