One of my favorite hunks of pig is the picnic shoulder, perfectly marinated and seasoned with Puerto Rican style spices.
Bear in mind that this recipe does not call for fresh ham, but rather fresh pork picnic which looks like ham. It’s actually the lower part of the shoulder cut below the butt. A butt could also be used. A fresh ham could be used as well, but picnic cuts are cheap, readily available, and VERY forgiving! Unlike butt, I find picnic can be done fairly hot and fast…. OR long and slow. I strongly suggest picnic. My version is, of course, not authentic. Puerto Rican versions often use a bitter orange marinade or basting sauce which I don’t care for.
Puerto Rican spices are my interpretation - and certainly not 100% authentic - but they do represent my experience with food from this island paradise!
- 1 picnic pork shoulder - bone-in preferably
- 2 packets Goya Sazon (found in Latin foods aisle in any market)
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh or coarse ground black pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons dry oregano
- 2 teaspoons adobo seasoning
- 5-6 tablespoons crushed garlic
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons white vinegar (or substitute other vinegar)
- Slash the rind side in a crisscross fashion down to the meat.
- Blend all dry ingredients and add garlic, vinegar, and enough olive oil to make a thin paste.
- Cover all surfaces with paste.
- Wrap picnic shoulder in cling wrap and refrigerate 2-3 days.
- Remove roast from refrigerator and place in roasting pan or set up outdoor cooker with roasting pan beneath the grates to catch drip.
- For fast-cooking technique: Roast in outdoor cooker using indirect heat and a cooking chamber temperature of 350°F. Plan to cook about 30 minutes per pound of roast until the roast is 200°F internal temperature.
- For low & slow cooking technique: Roast in outdoor cooker using indirect heat and a cooking chamber temperature of 300-325°F. Cook until the roast has in internal temperature of about 190°F and then turn up heat or use direct grilling to crisp the skin until done.
- If you don't favor crispy crunchy bark, you may also cook the roast wrapped in foil.
- After removing from heat, allow the roast to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Stand the roast on the broad "cut face" and slice parallel to the bone after first removing the crispy rind. Rind can be cut into 1-2 inch pieces and piled on the platter with the meat which will be more like pulled than sliced.
- If a drip or roasting pan was used during cooking, a pan sauce can be prepared while the roast rests.
Bear in mind that this is not fresh ham but rather fresh pork picnic which looks like ham --- but is the lower part of the shoulder cut below the butt. A butt could also be used. A fresh ham could be used as well but picnic cuts are cheap, available and VERY forgiving! Unlike butt I find picnic can be done fairly hot and fast.... OR long and slow. I strongly suggest picnic.