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I've been cooking a 15 lb (7 Kg) pork shoulder for 24 hours, and the temperature has been around 140°F (60°C) for both meat and liquid. I didn't realize the temp was so low until just now when I stuck a thermometer in it.

Its a new (to me) slow roaster that is quite large, and has temperature written on the dial. I had the dial set to 275°F (135°C), but obviously the actual temperature is much lower that.

I've turned up the temperature and will get it to a cooking temp of 275°F, but will it be safe to keep cooking the meat this way? I think I should get the meat close to 190°F (90°C).

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3 Answers 3

I often cook pork shoulder steaks at 60°C (140°F) for 48 hours sous-vide and as your shoulder is an intact piece of meat you really only need to be worried about any bacteria on the surface of the meat; presuming the shoulder is submerged in liquid, a cooking time of 24 hours at 60°C is long enough to pasteurise the surface and the interior. There's a good thread on eGullet that, while about sous-vide, is applicable here.

Also, in the massively unlikely scenario that the pork is infected with Trichinosis the USDA guides state that holding the meat at 140°F for 1 minute will kill the parasite

The main purpose though of cooking your shoulder I presume is to tenderise it and at temperatures of 140°F you won't get the characteristic falling apart texture associated with braised meat.

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The USDA recently lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature of pork to 145°F (60°C), from the long-time standard of 160°F (70°C). However, this really applies more to lean cuts like loin - for a bigger cut like your shoulder, 165-180°F (75-80°C) is probably a safer bet.

Cooking at that temperature for 24 hours should give you no problems; do test it with a probe thermometer to make sure it is the right temperature all the way through.

190°F (90°C) would have been slight overkill even before the change, and 275°F (135°C) is just crazy.

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Can you explain why you think the fat content has an effect on safe cooking temperature? –  Josh Caswell Oct 5 '12 at 16:24
Lean meat and fat conduct heat differently. That is, if you put similar pieces of lean meat and fat in the same water bath, the time it takes the heat to reach the center will differ. The connection to safety? The combination of time and temperature determines how many bacteria survive. –  soegaard Oct 5 '12 at 18:19
@ElendilTheTall using º for degree symbol looks weird, or very weird in some fonts, try ° which can be generated with ° –  TFD Oct 5 '12 at 20:33
They both look the same to me. <shrug> –  ElendilTheTall Oct 6 '12 at 7:38

Pork needs to be cooked throughout. It needs to be above 72°c for most bacteria to die. As long as you have increased the heat and let it alow cook above that head for a bit you will be fine. Remember that these heats are just guide lines but if you are serving it to other people then it is probably best to adhere to them.

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