Some cuts of meat, because of their size and relatively low cost, are especially well suited for serving crowds. Pork shoulder is a prime example as it provides a large and flavorful roast or a seemingly endless supply of pulled pork. One modest limitation is that it takes several hours to cook a large shoulder, and even the butt -- a cut-down portion of the shoulder -- takes many long hours to slow-cook into pulled pork. Whether you're simply working with leftovers, or deliberately preparing ahead for a large gathering, understanding how to reheat a shoulder successfully is an essential skill.
Reheating a Shoulder Roast
Pork roast doesn't handle storage and reheating as well as lamb or beef; it can develop off flavors in as little as a day or two. It's best if it's whole or in large pieces when refrigerated, so less of the meat's surface area is exposed to the flavor-draining effect of oxygen in the air. You can cut it into smaller pieces when it's time to warm it for the next meal.
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Heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Separate the shoulder into its individual large muscles, cutting along their natural seams with a sharp knife and then pulling them from the bone. Slice each piece separately, across the grain, until you've portioned enough pork for the meal.
Tear a sheet of aluminum foil, and top it with parchment paper. Arrange the sliced pork on top of the parchment, making an even layer 3/4 to 1 inch deep.
Moisten the slices with leftover gravy or drippings from the roast, if you have them. Otherwise, add a splash of water, wine, apple juice or other liquid.
Fold the foil and parchment around the sliced pork to make a tightly sealed package. Heat the pork for 25 to 30 minutes, until it reaches a food safe temperature of 165 F when tested with an instant-read thermometer.
Serve the pork with your choice of sauce and side dishes.
A Portion or Two
If you only need to heat up enough leftover pork for one or two portions, you have quicker options. One is simply to microwave a few slices of pork at 50 percent power, turning them frequently, until they're hot. Microwaves heat unevenly, and turning the slices helps prevent them from overcooking and becoming tough. If possible, heat the pork with a dribble of sauce or apple juice to provide moisture and help distribute microwave energy effectively.
For an alternative with a little more pizzazz, consider heating a portion or two of sliced pork in a sizzling-hot skillet with a few drops of oil. The hot pan sears and browns the pork, adding flavor while it reheats.
Slow-Cooked Barbecue Shoulder
If you've slow-smoked a big piece of shoulder for pulled pork, things are a bit different. The delicate smoke flavors are volatile and disappear quickly, so your leftovers are at their best when they're eaten quickly. If you've already shredded and sauced the pork, divide it into single portions or single-meal servings as soon as possible and refrigerate or freeze them immediately. They'll retain their quality better, and remain food safe.
You can reheat sauced portions in any number of ways: Microwave single portions for 30 seconds at a time on 50 percent power, stirring periodically, until the pork is heated through. Alternatively, heat the portions in a foil pouch or heatproof dish in your oven or toaster oven, warming them at 250 F until hot and bubbly. If the pork is sauced liberally, you can also heat it in a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan, stirring frequently to keep it from sticking and scorching.
If you've refrigerated a few intact pieces of pork to pull later, wrap them tightly in foil with a small quantity of drippings, sauce or apple juice. Heat them in a 300 F oven until they reach an internal temperature of 165 F, then chop or shred the pork as you would when it's fresh cooked.