Need Answer Fast - braising time for extra-large, bone-in pork shoulder

My first ever, non-ironic “Need Answer Fast” post!

I ordered a pork shoulder roast in my grocery delivery today, planning for a 4 hour prep/cooking time to braise it for dinner tonight.

What was delivered is an EIGHT pound roast, with the bone in - my recipes are all for 4-5 lb. roasts.

I don’t really mind making this super large roast and saving or sharing the leftovers, but what about the cooking time? If it scales linearly, and/or if the bone-in nature adds cooking time, does my 3 hour cooking time become 7 hours?

I could also debone this roast, cut it in half, and make the usual 4 lb. recipe while freezing the other half of the roast, but I don’t have the storage space.

Do you have an outdoor grill?

The bestest ever pork shoulder roast we’ve had was done with a closed-lid frill, and a couple of inches of chicken broth in the roasting pan with the pig.

Season the daylights out of the exterior of the meat, plop in pan, add chicken broth, and let 'er rip.

Expect your entire neighborhood to be pounding on your front door, crying for pig.


From here:

55-85 minutes per pound. Hope you have a meat thermometer.

Figure about 20 minutes per pound to cook through; but that’s at 325-350.

Weirdly, the same cite mentions 35-45 minutes a pound for a blade shoulder roast, if you BBQ. They BBQ at 320 F, but oven roast at 275. Oven roast hotter if you don’t have enough time?

I would go low and slow…7-8 hours at 275 f surrounded by aromatic veggies and maybe some apple the last hour and a half

That’s the roasting section, not the braising.

For braising they say
Arm (Picnic) Pork Roast 3-4 lbs. 30-33 min. per lb.
5-6 lbs. 26-29 min. per lb.

Blade (Boston) Pork Roast 3-6 lbs. 2 - 2 1/2 hrs.

Which seems to me they are going with a fairly hot braise there.

Got a pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot? This recipe says a 4 lb pork shoulder will take 75 minutes of pressure cooking time (that doesn’t include the time to get up to pressure before and the time to let the pressure naturally release after, so figure about 2 hours total).

I’d sous vide at 160 for 48-72 hours, then 15-30 minutes in a hot oven.

Whoops! Glad you at least were paying attention.

How does braising work, thermodynamically? Aren’t all braises about the same temperature, as there’s a liquid and vapor phase in the container, and therefore the vapor can’t get over the boiling point of the liquid until all of the liquid has evaporated?

So for now, the urgency is off since I could never start cooking this thing today until 3-3:30pm; hence my original plan involved a 3 hour cooking time, plus prep time, for tonight’s dinner. Now that this is clearly not going to happen, I’ll plan for it as tomorrow’s project and have leftovers tonight.

Still, what’s the plan going to be then hmm?

Interesting… I have a large outdoor gas grill, and had considered using it for this large of a piece of meat, but didn’t want dry heat (my original plan being to braise it). But a covered roasting pan with liquid in it would essentially be using the grill as an oven, hey?

Thing is, I’m not sure I have such a pan. I remember buying one but have never used it, and have no idea where it is.

Hmm? As you noted later, for braising it says 26-29 minutes per pound for a 5-6 lb. pork shoulder (picnic) roast; somewhat less time per pound than for the 4-5 lb. roast. So maybe 25 minutes per pound for this 8-pounder? Add back a bit for the bone, and approximately 4 hours, then?

Yeah, my original plan for a 4-5 lb. pork roast was going to be:

Rub it with salt, black pepper, garlic, rosemary, cumin, and brown sugar
Brown it on all sides in olive oil in a dutch oven
Remove the roast, brown some onions and chopped red cabbage in the remaining oil
Add apple slices, and place meat fat side up on top
Pour in a liquid mix of beer, worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar (to about halfway up)
Braise it at 275F for as long as necessary

Where I figured “as long as necessary” would be about 3-1/2 hours.

Yes, as a matter of fact all my previous pork roast braises have been via Instant Pot - a 3.5-4 boneless pork shoulder or butt roast, cut into three pieces against the grain; that’s as much meat as my Instant Pot can hold, if I add apples and cabbage, and even then I was right on the border of cramming it too full to pressurize well. It took 20-25 minutes to get up to pressure, and 20 minutes to “natural release”, so that plus the 15-20 minutes to heat oil and to brown the meat, plus the 75 minute pressure cooking time, made it not so instant.

Since I’m at home all day anyway I figured I’d go for the “standard” braising, which I was planning to do with a 5 lb. roast, and then I got this Flintstone chunk with a bone in it.

I wondered if I could do approximately the same approach with deboning this piece of meat and using a smaller cut. I mean, that would be my default option with time, to debone it down to a 7.5 lb. roast or so, then divide into a 4 and a 3.5 lb. section or a 4.5 and 3.0 lb. section, and freeze the smaller portion for future Instant Pot use.

I kind of like the idea of a bone-in roast. But would that 3-1/2 to 4 hour “normal” braise time now grow to 7-8 hours? That’s OK for tomorrow, I’d just want to prepare for it properly.

This link explains it much better than me. It’s mostly focusing on the method to get the different temps, but in key, mentions the differences in results at those temps.

Well this whole question may be moot - this 8-lb. roast cannot fit into my dutch oven without literally taking up the entire thing edge to edge (no good for braising, much less adding vegetables under it), and I can’t find the large covered roaster I got years ago and have never used that would otherwise be perfect for this to braise/roast at low temp for a long time.

So it’s going to go to the uncovered roast method, perhaps on my outdoor grill, sear the outside at high temp for 20 minutes and then set it to 275-300F for a long time.

So according to that chart, uncovered roasting of a pork shoulder roast would be… 55-85 minutes per pound at 275F??? Whoa. Even at 60 minutes per pound (it seems larger roasts use the lower range, probably due to the length not being as much of a factor as the thickness), this is gonna take me 8 hours, eh? And upwards of 12 hours? That can’t be right… Can it?

UPDATE: I put it in about 2 hours ago (at 10:15AM), seared it at 500F for 20 minutes, opened the oven to release some heat, and then closed it back up set to 250F… The internal temp of the roast has risen from about 65F to 110F.

That seems kind of rapid to me, so I dialed it even further down to like 225F, let’s see what that’s like in another hour… I’m trying to get it to finish around 6:30PM and was afraid of a longer cooking time, now it looks like it’ll be more rapid than I thought.

Sounds about right to me at that temp, based on barbecue experience.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re roasting it uncovered, the temperature will stall at some point around 160 degrees and stay there for a surprisingly long time. What’s happening is that the water in the meat is evaporating, cooling the meat and keeping the temp low. Eventually enough will leave that the temp of the whole thing goes up.

What are you planning on using the meat for? If you want it falling-apart tender, you’re looking for an internal temp around 203, but if you’re looking to slice it, 195 would probably be good.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can do a sort of hybrid braise and cover it during the early-mid stages and raise the temp up to 300-350. You won’t stall, and all your collagen to gelatin breakdown will happen faster with all the heat and moisture. Then you can uncover it for the last hour or two to brown the outside/dry it out a little. That should shave a few hours off- maybe make it 6-8 rather than 8-12 hours.

I’m assuming you have a leave-in probe thermometer? If not, that’s generally a must-have for any sort of long-duration cooking like this.

I just went to check and dammit, it’s already up to 155F, way faster than I thought it would be. I guess I didn’t cool the oven off enough between the sear at 500F and then airing it out for 3 minutes, then setting it to 250F.

I just aired it out again a bit and left in in there with the gas turned off, hopefully it slows its climb, I can always turn the gas back on at 250F later.

Yes, I have a digital, leave-in while-oven-is-closed thermometer. Not a wireless one, but the door easily shuts over the wire.

I didn’t know this about the internal temps, I generally remove my pork roasts at 170F and let it sit for 15 minutes and then carve. 195-200F? Really? I guess I’ve got the time I was looking for, then?

I can’t cover this roast, is the problem; I had a covered roasting pan somewhere but lost track of where it is. So all I have is an open roasting pan with a rack set in it.

Do you think I should turn the gas back on then? This is new territory for me.

OK, final report from the field:

I scored the roast all around the meat (the cap of fat was nigh unscorable), and rubbed it with a paste mixture of dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, Colman’s mustard powder, brown sugar, and cumin. I would have added rosemary leaves, but I ran out.

After putting it in the oven to sear at 500F for 20 minutes at 10:15AM, I removed the roast from the oven when it reached 195F around 4:15PM. This after it reached 160F by 2PM or so, with the oven set to 250F.

Clearly my leaving the oven door open for 3 minutes after searing the roast while resetting the oven to 250F did NOT really cool it off very much.

Next time: I will sear the roast with high indirect heat on the outdoor gas grill at 500F for 20 minutes, while preheating the oven inside to 250F where it will presumably roast a lot slower. And set it to 225F instead of 250F. Should get me from 10:15AM to 6:15PM to hit 195F.

I then removed it to a platter let it sit covered in foil for another 30 minutes to hit 200-205F before carving. It was very moist and deeelicious. The cap of fat became a hardened layer of crackling. Niiice.

I served it with a side of apple slices and onions, browned in a dutch oven with the pork fat while the roast was resting, dumping the leftover dry spice mixture I had from the pork earlier (minus the dijon mustard and liquids). I then then adding a shredded red cabbage, poured in a 12 oz. bottle of Guinness beer and 4 oz. of apple cider vinegar, stirred, and covered over medium heat for the 30 minutes it took for the roast to rest and then to carve the roast.

When the roast was carved, I removed the lid to the dutch oven to let the liquid simmer off; after the roast was carved (about 5-10 minutes time), the “apple slaw” was done.

Ideally I’d have served it with fried or baked potatoes, but my wife is allergic to potatoes, so it was just some basmati rice.

Would do again, but searing in a different heat source than the oven at a low heat setting (stupid laws of thermodynamics and my super well insulated Chambers stove oven!).