One Pork Shoulder, Three Dinners

Posted by on July 12th, 2012

The key to a successful trip to the store, or in this case, the Philabundance Community Food Center, is to choose items that offer maximum value and versatility. During a recent trip to Philabundance, the first item that inspired me was pork shoulder. An often overlooked cut of meat, it’s very affordable, easy to work with, and can be used in many different dishes over several days.

A well-cooked pork shoulder only requires two things: proper seasoning and patience. I like to make a mixture of kosher salt, black pepper, chopped garlic and fresh thyme, if you have any (dried will work too). Next, rub the seasoning mixture liberally all over the pork. This can be done a day ahead to really set the flavor into the pork, or at this point, place the shoulder in a pan with a diced onion underneath and a few cups of water. Cover the shoulder with foil and place in a preheated oven at 275 degrees and cook for 5-6 hours depending on the size. You will know it’s done when you can stick the handle of a spoon or fork into the meat without any resistance.

Roasted Pork Shoulder

1-4# boneless pork shoulder
4 cloves of garlic, minced (or 4 tsp. jarred minced garlic)
3 T. thyme, chopped
2 T. ground black pepper

The first dish that comes to mind is a good, hearty ramen. Most people think that you just boil the noodles, add the seasonings and that’s it. With a little love, this little packet of noodles turns into a hearty dish that you’ll want to eat every week. The beginning steps are still the same: boil your water, add your noodles and seasoning, and then add some of the peas that are available. The peas will be done at the same time as the noodles. Place the noodles and broth in a pasta bowl, cut a nice piece of roasted pork shoulder for on top and a hard-boiled egg into slices to place around, and you’re ready to eat a nice, satisfying meal.

Roasted Pork with Ramen
Serves 4

4 eggs (or 1 cup egg beaters)
1 cup peas
4 packets of ramen noodles
12 oz. roasted pork shoulder

The next dish I typically make with leftover pork is a sandwich. One option is to pull the pork shoulder while it’s still hot and mix it with BBQ sauce and place it on toasted Italian bread with coleslaw or potato salad on the side. Or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, slice it, layer it again on toasted Italian bread, but this time chop up some chickpeas that have been dressed with a little oil, salt, pepper, and then take some yogurt and season it with salt, pepper, lemon, garlic (mint or parsley would be great) and add any other vegetables, such as crisp lettuce or tomatoes, to create a light and healthy Mediterranean sandwich.

Mediterranean Pork Sandwich
Serves 4

1 loaf Italian bread, split and toasted
16 oz. pork shoulder, sliced
1 1/2 cups chickpeas
1 head romaine, washed and sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, washed and sliced thinly (or 1 ½ cups canned sliced tomatoes)
1 cup yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 tsp. jarred minced garlic)
2 T. mint, chopped
juice of 1 lemon (or 3 T. lemon juice)

The final dish I recommend for roasted pork shoulder is very similar to what my mother made every Sunday growing up. A simple, yet satisfying meal of roasted pork served with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut and green beans. For the potatoes, place them in cold, salted water (a little less salty than the ocean), bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and slowly simmer until you can stick a toothpick in them without any resistance. Drain well, toss with a little butter or olive oil, add salt, fresh ground pepper and any herbs if you like. The sauerkraut can be simply heated in a small pot, or you can caramelize onions to add as well. For the green beans, simply blanch in some boiling, salted water until cooked through, toss with butter and salt (I love to add toasted almonds or chopped bacon to mine) and serve alongside the pork, potatoes and sauerkraut.

Roasted Pork with Sauerkraut, Potatoes & Green Beans
Serves 4

16 oz. pork shoulder, sliced
2 lbs. potatoes (or two cans of potatoes)
1 lb. green beans (or one can of green beans)
1 can sauerkraut

I hope these dishes provide inspiration for everyone. When you’re shopping, look for items that you can cross-utilize the most. The more dishes and options an ingredient provides, the more creative you can get at dinnertime.

Nathan Volz is the Chef de Cuisine of 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge and is an occasional guest blogger for Philabundance. For more information, please visit or call 215.523.8273.


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