One Pork Shoulder, 5 Ways
No ifs, ands or butts about it: turn one slow-cooked pork shoulder into five different meals.
Pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt or pork butt depending what region you’re in, comes from the top of the front legs, or shoulder area, of the pig. You can find it at the grocery store or butcher with bone in or boneless.
We like it because it’s normally an inexpensive cut and can do almost anything: cut into chunks and stewed, roasted whole, smoked or set in a slow cooker. That last method is a go-to: break the slow cooker out at the beginning of the week, stuff it with a giant pork shoulder and then use the meat as a base for different meals. You won’t get bored eating the same thing on repeat and you won’t have to tackle a meal start to finish each night.
One thing you’re going to have to go with me on: use these recipes as suggestions! Do what makes sense for you. Portion off as much (or little) of the pulled, cooked pork as your family normally eats. Use what you have on hand to get creative in the kitchen. Want to make tacos but only have tortilla chips? Go for a plate of loaded nachos instead. The pork is your blank canvas and the refrigerator (or pantry) is your palette of paint.
This simple pork shoulder recipe is foolproof; it comes out of the slow cooker pull-apart tender and is neutral enough to be used in dishes of almost any cuisine.
Drop some of the cooked pork into a big pot of freshly made (or jarred!) tomato sauce to heat up. This multi-tasking move will heat the meat as well as infuse it with the sauce’s flavor. Think of it as Sunday sauce that doesn’t take all day.
Send the cooked pork for a dip in the chile-garlic puree after you’ve heated it up. Add a splash of chicken stock -- you won’t need the whole amount listed in the recipe -- to loosen the sauce up and then stuff your tacos (and your face).
The key to a good Cuban sandwich is tender, pull-apart pork shoulder cooked low and slow, normally in the oven, but the slow cooker pork you have on hand will do nicely in its place. Use a heavy pot or a brick wrapped in foil to weigh down the sandwiches and achieve crispy, pressed sandwich perfection.
Lettuce wraps are the cure for the weeknight dinner rut – they’re packed with fresh vegetables and nothing is more fun than a meal you can eat solely with your hands. Use the marinade portion of the recipe to heat up the shredded pork, then drain and serve.
While you could toss some of the pork with jarred barbecue sauce and call it a day, our homemade better-for-you version is paired with a broccoli slaw for a complete meal between buns.
Need more meat? Check out Melisa d’Arabian’s 10 Ways to Use Pork Shoulder.
Depending on your needs, some cuts are better than others.