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I am planning to cook a 10lb (4.5kg) bone-in pork shoulder at 250°F (121°C) for about 8 hours.

Is there any danger in overcooking if I cook for a few hours longer? I know it needs the time for the collagen to break down. I'm just wondering if there is an outside time danger of it becoming dry?

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3 Answers 3

If you cook it too long uncovered it will lose moisture and dry out. If it is covered and you have a bit of liquid in there you could cook it longer and it would stay moist. You could turn it down to 200 too to slow the cooking process.

EDIT: If I was going to cook a piece of meat that long I'd opt for a braise instead of a roast as if you cook any meat dry too long it will dry out even if it's well covered. For pork some thin stock and white wine would do, or maybe cola or ginger ale which works well for ham.

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I agree, as @GdD stated, make sure it is covered, however if you leave it in for 2+ hours, you may want to baste your pork shoulder with some water after an hour, to add some moisture to the roasting pan. This should also help from drying out your meat. :) –  HeyCameron Dec 11 '12 at 16:07
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Stop @HeyCameron, you're making me hungry and I'm still at work. –  GdD Dec 11 '12 at 16:15
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Covered or not, the risk of losing moisture is the same if it is cooked too long. –  Sean Hart Dec 11 '12 at 16:22
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If it is being cooked dry, definitely. If I was cooking it that long I'd be braising it. –  GdD Dec 11 '12 at 16:26
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Roasting a meat dry, in and of itself, does not dry meat out. That is proven time and again at barbecue competitions across the country. Similarly, braising does not guarantee moisture. You can cook all the moisture out of a piece of meat even if it's submerged in liquid from start to finish. –  Sean Hart Dec 11 '12 at 18:48
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I use a variant on a recipe from Fine Cooking. The first 4-4.5 hours are at 300 and there's no water in the pan. Then it gets some vegetables, wine, and water and another hour at 300. Finally it gets pulled apart to make more surface area and gets 15 minutes at 375 to create some browned and crispy spots. It is spectacularly delicious and not dry at all.

I don't know why you need 8 hours at 250, but I think the same process that cooks the meat and melts the connective tissue also drives out the water. So if mine is not dry after almost 6 hours at 300, and yours isn't normally dry after 8 hours at 250, I wouldn't worry that it will dry out if you do 10 hours instead of 8. But let me recommend adding wine, water, and garlic for the last hour anyway just for the yum factor.

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Why would you want to cook your pork shoulder past the point at which it is done? Granted, that is a very forgiving cut of meat, and an extra hour at 250f will probably make little substantive difference. However, there is no shortage of methods you can employ to keep your pork at a safe temperature until serving. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Wrapping in foil and storing in a cooler.
  2. Covering and holding in an oven at its lowest temperature.
  3. Using the "Warm" setting of a slow cooker.

You also could alter your cooking temperature so that it takes longer. However, I tend to think you're better off targeting a time a couple hours before you plan on serving it, to give you a little wiggle room if things take longer than expected, and then having a "hold warm" strategy at the ready.

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It's too complicated to explain why I ask. Has to do with me being away from the oven and the timing working out that way. Your solutions are all great though. Thank you. –  user14697 Dec 11 '12 at 22:18
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