What to do with an 8 lb. pork picnic?

I’d been vaguely thinking about doing a pork roast for some time. This week, whole pork picnics are 99 cents a pound, so we got an 8 lb. one. Then, I realized I didn’t have a specific plan for it. It’ll be several meals, since there’s just the two of us. I just know it will be cooked for a long time to convert all the connective tissue.

Merle Ellis, in Cutting Up In The Kitchen, maps out the hog, and he said the picnic roast can be very tender, and worthwhile to buy on sale. Oddly, the roast right above the picnic is the Boston Butt. The hog’s actual butt is called a ham. :confused:

Anyway, do you have any suggestions? This is the biggest piece of meat I’ve ever cooked. It’s like jumping onto a train without finding out where it goes. (I did that once in Washington, DC, but folks on the train told me how to get turned around.)

Should I go Cuban? Thai? Texan?

Are you planning on using a slow-cooker or the oven? Personally, with a roast that large, I usually just cook it slowly is a minimal fashion, then do all the fancy stuff when I prepare the specific meal. Cook it, slice it, freeze it. Then you can do just about anything you want with it.

My wife just now put it in the slow-cooker, with a Sam Adams beer. Nothing fancy yet.

Carnitas! I don’t have a recipe, though.

There you go then. Cook it slighlty pink, then let rest and slice. From there you can make Cuban sandwiches, pork medallions in Madiera sauce, grill them back to temperature and serve with Western sides…whatever.

We went that way for the first batch. Chopped some up, mixed in some salsa and cumin, and that was wrapped in flour tortillas for supper. I think we’re going with rice, tomatoes, onion, and peppers Tuesday. Tomorrow is ballpark food. The Indians play the PawSox.

The remainder cooked for another 1 1/2 hours, then it’s in the refrigi-gator. I can skim off the pork fat for wonderful sauteing in the next week. The broth will be bagged and frozen for stews and such. Aw, yeah.

For me, there’s only one thing to do with such a huge chunk of pork: smoke it! I would smoke it for 8-12 hours (until the internal temp is 195-200) and make pulled pork sandwiches.

Is this cut of pork good for this type of cooking? I’ve actually never cooked any pork but tenderloin or loin to pink doneness. I would think the picnic would be too tough and fatty for this type of preparation. (Hmm…looking it up it seems that it is possible to cut in steaks, but it is the toughest cut of pork. Seems most places recommend long, slow cooking, braising, and the sort.)

There’s a lot you can do with a whole shoulder that doesn’t involve cooking it whole.

Usually, I cut a four- or five-inch section off of the butt end, cutting through to the bone and then working with a boning knife around the bone in the center. Then I roll the boneless section into a roast, leaving the skin on around the outside. Roast it on a rotisserie with the skin side to the heat and you’ll have a delicious, tender pork roast covered with delcious crispy cracklings.

Also, I’ll cut up a pound or so of the meat into small cubes and make porkolt, a kind of Hungarian stew. But any slow-cooked stew recipe will work just as well: your basic chili if you like, or chili verde (made with tomatillos) or just regular stew made with pork instead of beef.

Fattier bits can be saved out and cut small, then fried to render the fat for cooking, or fry them crispy and brown to make a yummy snack.

When I get down to the shank end, I simmer the bone in water with some onion, celery, carrot, parsley, and peppercorns to make a pork broth. Meanwhile, I grind the meat from the bone with some shrimp, ginger, scallions, and a bit of soy to make won ton filling. The pork broth is perfect for won ton soup.

An 8-pound pig leg will give us several meals and snacks, and absolutely nothing goes to waste.

If you’ve a LARGE crock pot, I’d say to toss it in with a beer, and let it go all day.

Pull with a pair of forks, and use as desired. On a nice bulkie roll with cheese, BBQ sauce and a bit of cole slaw sounds great to me.

The leftovers and remaining broth can be used to make soup for the next course. (You might need to water the broth down, as it can be strong & salty post cooking.)