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I'm intending to do the following recipe with an 8lb (3.6kg) bone in shoulder http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/3312736/The-River-Cottage-Meat-Book-part-one-roasting.html (Essentially 30mins @230C/450F, 16hours @ 110C/230F, 45mins@230C/450F).

I'm concerned such a long cooking time will dry out the meat and my shoulder is below the 5-8kg range the recipe suggests. I've looked around on the web for advice and I haven't found anything conclusive

http://jensfoodandphotos.blogspot.ca/2012/09/donnie-brasco-pork.html - Cooked boneless 3kg for 6 hours

http://catastrophysicist.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/donnie-brasco-pork-shoulder/ - unclear what size shoulder and whether the bone was in or not, says cooking time was too long

Most of the posts on this site use a slightly higher cooking temperature for much less time (250F for 6-8 hours seems to be the consensus)

There seems to be two concerns

  1. Safe meat, this seems pretty easy to achieve (140F+)
  2. Tasty, melty, delicious meat (195F to melt the collagen)

I'm inclined to just give it a try but a decent pork shoulder runs at least $70 in Canada and I don't want to blow thanksgiving

Any thoughts on how/if I should adjust he cooking time/temperature

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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Pork shoulder is extremely forgiving.

You are looking for an outcome, not a time, and not an absolute temperature. Cook it until it is tender, which indicates the collagen is sufficiently converted to gelatin. That may or may not have happened at a particular temperature, because the conversion process is time dependent, and the rate is temperature sensitive.

Meathead describes testing for this in his comprehensive recipe for smoking pork shoulders:

If there is a bone, use a glove or paper towel to protect your fingers and wiggle the bone. If it turns easily and comes out of the meat, the collagens have melted and you are done. If there is no bone, use the "stick a fork in it method". Insert a fork and try to rotate it 90 degrees. If it turns with only a little torque, you're done. If it's not done, close the lid and go drink a mint julep for 30 minutes. If the internal temp hits 195°F but the meat is still not tender, push on up to 203°F, my new favorite target.

See also:

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That is an awesome answer, so I think to summarise what I've read so far, work on 2hrs/lb (so maybe 10hrs rather than 16) and if it finishes early wrap it and don't worry? Given I have to have it ready at a certain time I'll start it 12hrs before lunch to make sure? –  David Hayes Oct 9 '13 at 15:21
    
Yes, if it finishes early, pull it and hold it. It should store extremely well in a small beer cooler, for example. –  SAJ14SAJ Oct 9 '13 at 15:27
    
Any thoughts on foiling it as suggested in this article huffingtonpost.com/craig-goldwyn/… –  David Hayes Oct 9 '13 at 15:58
    
That depends on if you are actually smoking or not. If you are smoking, not wrapping will give you better crust development at the cost of time. Otherwise, no harm in wrapping if you want to speed things up. –  SAJ14SAJ Oct 9 '13 at 18:27
    
Not planning to smoke this one, I am intrigued by the idea but I'm not sure my neigbours would thank me. –  David Hayes Oct 9 '13 at 19:00
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