You might never see a true replacement for the traditional oven, but you certainly have several options when it comes to supplementing one. Take electric roasters, for example. They take up about as much space as a microwave, reach oven temperatures without heating the whole kitchen in the process and are ideal when you need to cook a tough roast low and slow. Pork shoulder, the standard cut used for shredded pork, needs several hours of braising to tenderize enough to shred. You can use that downtime -- and the extra space the roaster affords you -- to cook all your side dishes in your regular oven while you wait.
Things You'll Need
- 4 to 6 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
- Kitchen knife
- Kosher salt
- Dried spices
- Meat fork (optional)
- Paper towels
- Diced onions (optional)
- Diced celery (optional)
- Diced carrots (optional)
- Braising liquid
- Acidic ingredient
- Probe thermometer
Remove the pork shoulder from the refrigerator and place it on a cutting board. Trim the 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick layer of fat that covers one side of the pork shoulder, called a "fat cap," using a kitchen knife.
Trim the smaller, thinner layer of fat, called the "false cap," from the pork using a kitchen knife. Remove any large areas of external fat from the roast as well. Discard the fat or reserve it for another use.
Season the roast to taste with kosher salt and your spice rub of choice. You can also make your own rub with pork-friendly dried spices, such as cumin, paprika and chili powder, to name a few. Use 1/2 tablespoon of dried spices and 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of pork as a guideline.
Drizzle the bottom of the roaster with oil and set it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pork in the roaster to brown.
Turn the pork using tongs, if possible. If the roast is too irregularly shaped or lopsided to turn safely with tongs, use a meat fork. Remove the roast after you brown it on all sides and place it on a plate lined with paper towels.
Pour a drizzle of oil in the roaster and add 2 cups mirepoix vegetables -- 2 parts diced onions to 1 part each diced celery and diced carrots -- to add basic aromas and flavors. Cook the vegetables until softened and lower the heat to 190 degrees F.
Move the mirepoix to the sides of the roaster and place the pork in the center. Pour enough liquid to reach halfway up the pork roast. You can use any liquid to braise pork in. Water, wine, ale and stock all do the same job in a braise, they just add different flavors.
Add an acidic ingredient to the roaster. Acid works with heat to break down connective tissue, making the pork easier to shred later. One can of stew tomatoes per roast are the go-to ingredient when you need acid in a braise, but 1/2 tablespoon of any vinegar or lemon juice will do.
Cover the roaster and cook the pork for 30 minutes. Uncover and insert a probe thermometer in the braising liquid until it covers the small dimple in the middle of the probe. If needed, adjust the heat of the roaster so the braising liquid measures between 180 and 190 degrees F.
Cover the pork and braise it until fork tender, usually about 1 to 1 1/2 hours per pound. Start checking the roast for tenderness after about 3 to 4 hours. Use tongs and a fork to shred the meat from the fat and place it in a separate bowl.