Rotisserie Pork Shoulder Roast



This recipe is a happy accident; I meant to bring you a pork loin roast today, but I confused my wife* by asking for a "blade end" pork loin roast; she brought home a blade shoulder roast instead.
*Normally, I do the shopping, but I'm coaching my son's soccer team, and we had a game.
**OK, I'm a control freak; I really WANT to do the shopping. It pains me to let someone else do it. They're going to get it wrong! But that was a good thing in this case.

***If you're looking for a rotisserie pork loin recipe, click here.


Pork shoulder (often called "boston butt", or in this case " blade shoulder") is my favorite cut from the pig, so I wasn't very upset about this mistake. Pork shoulder, unlike the very lean pork loin, has a lot of fat in it. This helps it cook up nice and juicy, even when you cook it well done. And you must cook it to well done - there's a lot of connective tissue in there with the fat. If you don't cook it enough, that connective tissue makes this a very tough cut of meat. But...if you get the connective tissue to melt (by cooking to AT LEAST 180*F), the result is tender, melt in your mouth porky goodness.

The rotisserie adds a crispiness to the outside of the roast that...well, Diane put it best while we were eating:
"Oh, my. This is soooooo good. It's like bacon on the outside, and juicy on the inside."
Recipe: Rotisserie Pork Shoulder Roast



Equipment:
  • Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit 650 with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here it is.)
  • aluminum foil drip pan (9"x12", or whatever fits your grill)
  • butcher's twine
Ingredients:
  • 3-4 lb Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast, trimmed of any excess fat

Brine
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3/4 cup table salt (1.5 cups kosher salt)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Rub
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried lemon peel (or lemon zest)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper



Directions:
1. Brine the pork: In a large container, stir the salt and sugar into the water until dissolved. Add the pork, and refrigerate for 3-8 hours.

2. Prepare and rest the roast: One hour before cooking, mix the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the pork from the brine, and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the entire roast, working it into any nooks, crannies and seams you can find. Truss the roast with butcher's twine, tying it every inch and a half.* Skewer the roast on the spit through the center of the roast, then let it rest at room temperature.
*When trussing, you're trying to get a nice cylinder shape. The pork shoulder cut may not cooperate, so do the best you can. I had to fold mine in half, then I trussed it to hold it together. See the pictures above and below.


3. Prepare the grill Set your grill up for rotisserie cooking at high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means preheating my grill for 15 minutes with all the burners on high.  (Make sure you remove the middle grill grate before you do this, so you don't have to juggle a hot grate.)  Then I turn off all the burners except for the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6), and I light the infrared burner and turn it to high as well.  I put my drip pan in the middle of the grill, over the unlit burners. (See here for more rotisserie setup details.)


4. Cook the roast Put the spit on the rotisserie, and cook with the lid closed.  Cook the pork roast until it reaches 185*F to 190*F in the thickest part of the meat. This should take 1 to 1.5 hours; assume about 25 minutes per pound of meat.

5. Rest, carve and serve. Remove the spit from the grill, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before removing the roast. Remove the roast to a cutting board, remove the twine from the roast, and slice the pork into 1/2" thick slices. Serve and enjoy!


Variations:
*Easy: Skip the brining, and step 1; add 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp brown sugar to the rub in step 2 and continue with the recipe as written.

*Overnight salt: Instead of brining, do the "easy" variation (above) 1 to 3 days ahead of time, and store in the refrigerator. Continue with the trussing and skewering in step 2 one hour before cooking.

*Italian style: Replace the rub with a garlic-herb paste of 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp minced thyme, 1 tsp minced rosemary, and 1 tbsp olive oil, mixed.

Notes:
*I can't get boneless pork shoulder roasts in the meat case at my local grocery; they always come bone-in. That's no big deal; I just cut the bone out before cooking. It gave me more nooks and crannies to get the rub into before I trussed it up.

*Make sure you trim the fat cap off the top of the roast - there's plenty of fat throughout this roast, so that big hunk of fat on top will just make it greasy.

*Again, this is not the time to go for medium-rare, slightly pink pork. The connective tissue in the shoulder will make it jaw-achingly tough. Cook it to well done and beyond. In fact, you'd have a hard time overcooking this roast. If you have any questions about "is it done?" you should err on the side of cooking it more.

Questions? Comments?  Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related posts:
Click here for my Rotisserie Pork Shoulder, Char Siu style
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.

Inspired by:
Luck of the draw at Acme Grocery
Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue! Bible



Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.

Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
plus 50 (mostly) new recipes to get you cooking.

It's a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!


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39 comments:

adunn377 said...

Thank you for this recipe, I am going to try it on Friday.

Chantal said...

Hey Mike! Do you have trouble keeping your grill hot in the winter?

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

Hi, Chantal!

No, I don't really have any problems with keeping my grill hot in the winter. The Weber grills I have do a good job of holding in the heat. They probably get up to temperature a little slower, but once they're at temperature, they're fine. My gas grill is a monster - I've used it in single digit weather without any problems.

The only thing that seems to slow it down is high wind, which knocks the heat down a little. In that case, if I'm cooking at, say, medium, I increase the burner temp to medium-high to make up for it.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

One more thing about grilling in the winter - the key is to keep the lid closed unless absolutely necessary.

As I said, my grills do a good job of holding in the heat, but if I leave the lid open too long the heat escapes, and they have to build it up again.

John T said...

Mike, The rotisserie pork shoulder roast turned out spectacularly - exceeded expectations. I am a newbie to rotisserie bbq and have not previously had good experience with roast pork; perhaps I have not cooked them hot enough to break down the connective tissue. In any case I took this one to 188 degrees and the family loved it.

Yes it is the wind, not outside temperature that makes it hard to hold bbq temp. Blustery day today forced me to keep an extra burner on.

John

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@John T:

Great! I'm glad to hear it worked well for you. This recipe is probably my favorite one that I developed for the blog - I just love the pork roast you get from it.

Harry Miller said...

Tried your Pork Shoulder recipe tonight, and the family loved it. Just found your site while looking for a way to do Carnitas. Thanks. I will be trying more of your ideas. - Harry

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Harry Miller:

Thank you.

I'd suggest the rotisserie Cornish game hens, or maybe the baby back ribs next.

Good luck!

Philippides said...

I'm thinking about doing this kind of roast but over coals. What temperature do you think I should have the grill at? Thanks.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Philippides:

High heat - in my case, I get that with a Weber charcoal chimney full of coals, about 5 quarts of charcoal, split into two piles with a drip pan in the middle.

For more details check out: Rotisserie Boneless Pork Loin Roasts

Chris said...

Hi Mike! Great stuff. As another Dad who does all the cooking I fully relate to your passion for cooking, both as a hobby and, more importantly, for keeping our families healthy!

My loving family gave me a Summit 650 3 years ago for my birthday and I LOVE it! However, I probably have used the rotisserie no more than a total of 5 times in the 3 years. I never found time to experiment with the technique. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to come across your site a month back. Since, I've rotisseried a MINIMUM of 3x/week! For today I'm featuring this fantastic rotisseried Boston Butt in celebration of Grandparents Day (there is such a thing). My in-laws love pork and I'm certain this will be a hit (yes, I've already prepared for our family), along with the roasted potatoes in the drip pans beneath. :-)

Thanks again....look forward to getting into your inspirations that do not involve grilling in a couple months.

Chris

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Chris:

Rotisserie pork butt for grandparents day - sounds like the perfect holiday to me!

I will have a few non-grilling recipes starting soon. I like to get outside and grill during the summer, while the weather here in Northeastern Ohio is cooperating.

Marcy said...

Do you think this recipe would work for a picnic roast? It's apparently a leaner cut, but since you removed the excess fat from the shoulder roast I thought it might be appropriate.

Thanks.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Marcy:

Yes, you can! I have a picnic roast in my freezer right now, waiting for the weather to get a little warmer.

Carol said...

Thanks for sharing this accident. I'd be happy to do it over and over again. It looks delicious!

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Carol:

You're welcome. I love it when an accident results in a better outcome than my plan!

Ted Canova Interview said...

I use a Ducane grill with the rotisserie burner on low. It will cook this in about 20-30 minutes per pound. I tried it on high and medium and dried out the outer layers a tad bit. On low-medium low it beautiful. I have been doing 2 shoulders tied together with lightly cooked bacon in between + a little sauce. Today i did that and wrapped the whole thing in bacon. It cooked low for about 1.75 hours at 3.75 pounds + 1/2 pound of bacon. After you put the bacon in the middle of the 2 shoulders tie it off in 3 places the spread a layer of sticky sauce or honey over your tied together shoulders to make the bacon stick to the outside. Then spiral tie the bacon around the shoulder. Baste as directed above.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Ted Canova:

That sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing it.

Justin said...

Hi Mike,

What temperature should I try to hold inside the grill when cooking this roast? I plan to use the outside burners and a infrared burner on a Weber Summit 670.

Thanks,

Justin
Folsom, CA

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Justin:

I always cook this with my two outer burners on high, and my infrared burner on high.

I'm surprised to say this, but I don't know what temperature that means. I need to double check, but I'm guessing it's 450*F, plus or minus 50 degrees...

Aaron Friedman said...

What was your reference for the brine ratios?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

I use 1/4 cup table salt or 1/2 cup kosher salt per quart of water. I'm pretty sure I picked that ratio up from Cooks Illustrated, but it might be Alton Brown...I've been using it for so long that I don't remember for sure.

Mark K said...

I do like a lot of your stuff but I just do my pork shoulder so different, I wanted to share. I get 8 to 10 pound whole pork shoulder, I leave the bone in (my wife and I both agree that any meat cooked with the bone in has more flavor) I also leave the fat and skin on but slice it into squares about 1/'2 to 3/4 inches deep. Once I have the squares cut in and any loss hanging fat cut off I smear Seasoning all over and into all the cracks and let it sit over night. The next morning I preheat the grill, put a drip pan with water, tie the shoulder, put it on the spit have the outside burners on and keep the temp at 275 deg and leave it on for 7 to 8 hours. You will know when its done when it stats to fall off the spit. The fat squares we pick off and eat Yummy!! No knife need just use tongs to pick the meat from the bone. I can do this on my summit or genesis, do not use the rotisserie burner.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Mark,

Sounds like a great low-and-slow pork shoulder. Thanks for sharing!

duger said...

Great site - been a fan for a while -
Have you ever achieved textures of a pulled pork which has been slow cooking in a 250 degree oven for 10 hours and the meat just falls apart using your rotisserie? I am able to achieve moist juicy meats but was wondering if I can get the "falling apart" effect using a rotisserie.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Yes, and I'm working on my recipe for that right now - I hope to post it in a couple of weeks. Roughly, if you cook it at 250°F to 300°F until the pork is 195°F in its thickest part, it will pull apart beautifully.

duger said...

Do you think it needs to be wrapped in foil at some point? For example I was thinking of doing like a high heat right in the beginning for a decent sear, bringing down the temp to 250, wrapping in foil, and cooking for a few hours - then remove the foil for the final stages. Think that is even necessary/

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

I don't think it's necessary, but it won't hurt. I usually do a foil wrap finish when I cook barbecue, but I didn't last time, and it still worked fine.

duger said...

looking forward to your post - if i get around to it before you i'll let ya know how it goes ...

Brian Thomas said...

One thing with pork shoulders though. If you get one that is 'enhanced with up to XX% solution of....' you're better off skipping the brine process entirely otherwise it could end up being too salty. I find you have to read the labels carefully since it's often stated in pretty small print that it is enhanced. If you can't find any pork shoulders that are not enhanced, then just apply the rub and you're good to go :-)

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're right, watch out for enhanced pork. (Though I can't find enhanced pork shoulder at my local grocery stores - they all sell natural pork for the shoulder, and "enhance" the loins and tenderloins.)

Don Kowal said...

Dear Michael, We are having Mandy, Bryan and your two grandnephews here for dinner and we got a pork shoulder. I just googled it and voila hit gold. One variation is that I'm also using a smoke box with big hunks of wood and some rosemary (we have a giant bush). I too love to barbeque and but Bryan Mandy's husband is a real(!) cook like you.
Best to you and your family.
Don

mccowdog@gmail.com said...

I'm going to to the same roast this afternoon ( 9 lbs ), can't wait to dig in...Thanks for the info...

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're welcome - good luck!

Andrea said...

I am cooking next month for a church dinner (~100 people) and wonder if it is possible to do this pork shoulder roast recipe the day before, slice it, refrigerate it and then reheat it for dinner the next day (like brisket). Is this a really bad idea or is it doable? I hate dry pork...

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Pork shoulder will reheat well - it has enough fat in it so it won't dry out too much.

Good luck!

John Mooney said...

Great recipe and with those potatoes is something of beauty. I've got the Summit 420, I've been reading that some people use the infra-red for the last 20 minutes to make the skin extra crispy, what's your thoughts on that?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

With a small (3 to 4 pound, kind of thin) roast like this one, I run the IR burner for the entire cooking time, to make sure the crust is extra crispy. (See step 3).

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

With bigger roasts like this one:

http://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2013/08/rotisserie-pork-shoulder-with-south.html

then it's a great idea; if the roast is cooking on Medium or lower for most of the cooking time, a blast of heat from the IR is a great finishing touch. (That is, if the roast looks like it needs it - sometimes they're pretty crispy from the long cooking time in the grill, even without the IR burner.)

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