The Picnic Roast is the lower half of the shoulder, the top half being called the Boston Butt. This cut can be combined into both and the cooking options are similar. This is a heavily used muscle and a flavorful meat with good fat and connective tissue that will render when cooked low and slow.
Over at the Dizzy Pig site, they have a recipe for pulled pork that uses both of these shoulder cuts to make pulled pork, an all time favorite. The low and slow method is at the extreme here, but the results are worth it. Check it out for it’s nice explanation and detailed instructions and options.
Ultra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder is a favorite of mine, due in large part to the delicious cracklin from the final step in the process that produces crackles on the outer layer. The recipe at serious eats has some nice suggestions on this that you can build on with links to sauces and related dishes. Additionally, this is a simple meal to make though you will have to plan ahead and budget 8-10 hrs.
The general rule to keep in mind for shoulder cuts is that you need to cook it at low temp for a long time to melt all the fat and connective tissue, but they are rich and flavorful cuts. If you have smaller roast, you will reduce the cooking / smoking time accordingly.
I encourage you to check out AmazingRibs for a very good article on cooking temps and times. This is a great site overall to familiarize yourself with and you will find we link to it frequently.
I have to say, pulled pork and barbecue of most types is one of my favorite foods. Because of that, you will note this post focuses on that, but I try to highlight different approaches. To some, an oven is sacrilege for this process and only outdoor, wood smokers will do. Others are just as happy with an oven and a little liquid smoke, though I suspect that is due to not trying the alternatives.
It is also worth noting that the term Pork Butt is a little confusing as it is really not the butt at all, but rather the shoulder area – there are some pretty funny suggestions as to why it’s called the butt, but I will leave that to you to read up on.
- First up is the website AmazingRibs.com. The reason I am leading off with this one is I think it is a great resource to get an education on this cut and style, plus it doesn’t hurt that they point out Berkshire Pigs are the ones to look for! (In case you didn’t figure it out yet, we raise Berkshire – mmm good) The approach in this article is focused on a smoker or grill, but could be adapted if you are desperate and can’t lay your hands on one of these options. (I am sad for you if that is the case – you should move to the country and make some redneck friends like mine to have true food options!) Also worth looking for on this site is the linked article on cooking times.
- The next option to look at is from the CookShack.com.
While there is significantly less detail on this link, I like this site as they also provide a little balanced chat about the different mops / sauces.
- Jump on google or bing or however you search the internet of food and find your own great resources, and please, let me know your approaches.
The bottom line is that this is a great cut of meat, cooked low and slow. Pulled pork is best paired with coleslaw, beans and beer and served on burger roles but you will find your own approach based on region and taste.