Say I have something like a pork shoulder that I want to serve whole, with the layer of fat nicely browned under the broiler, but the fat is much thicker than I'd actually like to serve. How can I trim it down to a layer of the desired thickness without leaving it obviously uneven, so that it'll cook evenly and look good? I know to use a good sharp knife, but beyond that are there techniques that'll help out?

  • Are you planning to remove the skin? As opposed to just scoring it?
    – Stephie
    Dec 29, 2015 at 6:21
  • @Stephie Usually they don't come with the skin itself here (just a fair amount of fat), and if they did, that'd probably be way thicker than I'd want to actually eat. I want to be able to just eat it as-is, with the nicely browned surface, rather than needing to trim more away at the table.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 29, 2015 at 14:35
  • The problem is that the fat cap on a shoulder, when placed on top during cooking, generally helps the meat to maintain moisture, so removal after cooking is probably considered a best practice by most. As far as the actual trimming process, the score method suggested by @user2052413 should work OK. Another idea would be to serve it sliced and trimmed, but that may not suit your expressed preference above.... Jan 15, 2016 at 20:40
  • @Kkinsey Sure, it may be best to trim post-cooking; the question still remains how to do it and get an even layer. I've had things served in restaurants that were clearly at least finished after trimming (nicely browned at the top of the layer), and very smooth.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 15, 2016 at 21:34
  • Also I'm pretty sure that you don't need all the fat there for it to cook properly. Past some point, it's just extra fat.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 15, 2016 at 21:55

2 Answers 2


This may sound ridiculous, but I cook the meat to about half-done before I trim it. Then just use a filleting knife, the same one I use for fish, and I insert toothpicks to the depth where they encounter solid meat, so I can judge how thick the fat is. Then I just fillet the fat off, using the toothpicks as a depth guide and removing them as i go, and I peel the sliced fat back with a fork. You should be able to get it all off in one sheet.


I would score the fat in a nice diamond pattern, then with a sharp knife, start trimming the fat. The pattern will help hide the obvious uneven surface.

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