Magic Pork Shoulder

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 8 hr 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
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Ingredients

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

One 8 1/2 pound bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt)

One 12-ounce bottle flavorful beer (not a light beer)

Pickled vegetables, warmed corn tortillas, quartered avocados, and lime wedges, for serving

Directions

  1. Combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and fennel in a small bowl. Place the pork in a large bowl and rub the spices all over, being sure to cover all sides. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Bring the pork to room temperature on the countertop for 1 hour before roasting.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Put the seasoned pork in a large Dutch oven, fat side up, and roast, uncovered, until lightly browned, 45 minutes. Pour the beer over the pork, lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F, and cover the pot. Cook until the pork is completely tender and pulls easily from the bone, about 6 hours. Remove from the oven. Transfer the pork to a plate and remove the bone. Cook the liquid over medium-high heat until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. (I often skip this part because the liquid cooks down every time I reheat the leftover pork all week long.)
  4. Meanwhile, shred the pork, using two forks. Let the liquid cool slightly, then return the pork to the liquid to keep warm. Serve warm, with all the goodies.

Cook’s Note

An 8-pound shoulder easily feeds 10 to 12 adults plus a handful of small kids as a taco filling. For a smaller group, up a 4 to 6-pound shoulder instead, reducing the cook time a bit and halving the spice rub. Use a whole bottle of beer, regardless. Cook this dish completely ahead; cool, wrap tightly, and keep in the refrigerator, in the braising liquid, for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat slowly in a large Dutch oven over low heat. (If frozen, bring to room temperature before warming.)

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