A pork shoulder roast is like Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality: tough at first, but give it some time and it’ll transform into a beautiful, unforgettable dish. We often braise this cheap cut of meat for pulled pork sandwiches and Momofuku-inspired bo ssam, but sometimes you don’t want fall-apart, shreddy pork—you want a hearty slice.
Our new recipe for pork shoulder braciola is a twist on the traditional Italian rolled steak. You stuff an herby, garlicky Parmesan breadcrumb mixture inside the meat, roll it up like your favorite lazy deli meat and cheese snack as a kid, and cook low and slow for 4–5 hours at 225° oven. When you cut into it, it becomes beautiful pinwheels of tender pork and it has a built-in side dish: cheaters’ Sunday Sauce. Instead of stirring ragù all day, tomatoes simmer around the pork and create a hands-off flavorful sauce. All you need to do is boil pasta while the pork rests, and dinner is served.
The recipe is straightforward, but there are a few key tips to help you achieve saucy braised perfection. It starts at the grocery store and ends relaxing on the couch while you wonder if it’s possible to bottle and sell the smell of a slow-roasted pork shoulder. Here are some tips from senior food editor Chris Morocco:
Shop Like a Pro
At the butcher or grocery store, look for a fairly compact, solid piece of pork shoulder that weighs about 4 pounds. It should have even thickness from edge to edge instead of having a thin flap of meat on one side and a larger, thicker one on the other. Try to find one that is longer rather than short and stout so you can butterfly it open and stuff it. You can also ask your butcher to do this if you’re afraid of messing it up—shoot for 12–18″ when it’s unfurled and ready to stuff with garlicky breadcrumbs.
The braciola will take at least 4 hours to cook, but you can start checking temperature a little early to make sure it’s braised but not too fall-apart or dry. It needs to come to temperature slowly over time, and you can tell it’s done when a skewer easily passes through meat or a thermometer inserted into the center registers 200–205°. If you don’t have a skewer, a chopstick will work in a pinch. If you feel a lot of resistance with a skewer, keep the meat cooking longer.
Roast in Advance
Have a whole Saturday free but want friends to come over Sunday afternoon? Roast the pork, chill it, and reheat on medium-low in a covered pot. Submerge it in some sauce to keep it moist, and don’t slice until you serve. It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to reheat, and that’s plenty of time to boil pasta and get ready to serve. She is beauty, she is grace, she is Miss United Pork Shoulder.
Ready? Get the recipe: