Matilda, Maple, and Garlic Pork Shoulder with Crispy Skin Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Serves a Crowd

by: EmilyNunn



22 Ratings

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 18 hours 35 minutes
  • Serves up to 8

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Author Notes

My grandmother (yes, I'm mentioning my grandmother again) used to cook her ever-present, giant ham by sticking it in the oven and pouring ginger ale over it every once in a while, as if it had won the Super Bowl. I decided to use a bottle of Matilda beer, a lovely fruity malty ale made here in Chicago, by Goose Island, with maple syrup for some extra sweetness. You'll probably have to special order the rind-on cut; I had a hard time getting one in Chicago, a.k.a Meatland. Strange. The ponderously long cooking time was inspired by The River Cottage Meat Book, a book that I find charmingly revolting. —EmilyNunn

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: ENunn is a writer in Chicago.
WHAT: A tender pork shoulder that is the definition of "slow and low" -- it cooks for 18 hours!
HOW: After mixing up the fennel and garlic marinade, the roast goes in the oven and requires little work save some intermittent basting.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Whether you love crispy skin or falling-apart meat, this showstopper has something for everybody. —The Editors

  • Test Kitchen-Approved
  • Your Best Maple Recipe Contest Winner

What You'll Need

  • 6 poundsbone-in, skin on pork shoulder (up to 8 pounds for more servings)
  • 3 tablespoonsfennel seeds, toasted, crushed
  • 14 piecesgarlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoonskosher salt
  • 1/2 cupolive oil
  • 1 teaspooncayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoonblack pepper
  • 3/4 cupgrade b maple syrup
  • 1 big bottle of Matilda, or another malty fruity ale
  • 2 teaspoonsmalt vinegar
  1. After allowing the meat to come to room temperature, use a sharp knife to score the skin, making 1/2 inch stripes over entire surface. Preheat oven to 450. Toast fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat, until fragrant (3 minutes); crush using mortar and pestle, set aside. Place garlic and salt in empty mortar mortar and grind together to make a paste. Slowly add olive oil, then sprinkle in cayenne, black pepper, fennel.
  2. Rub about 1/3 of the paste over the skinless side of the meat, then place skin side down on a roasting pan in lower third of oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile stir the syrup and vinegar into the remaining paste.
  3. Turn the oven down to 225. Carefully flip the shoulder (use a clean towel), then use a rubber spatula to spread the remaining paste over the shoulder, pushing it into the scored skin.
  4. Return to oven and cook for 18 hours or longer (you can put it in the oven at bedtime and leave it in until you serve it as an early supper the next day, which is what I did; I just turned it all the way down to 150 for a couple of hours late in the afternoon), pouring 1/3 of the bottle of beer over it at several intervals, and basting with the drippings 2-3 times. Seriously. Before serving, turn up the heat to 450 for ten minutes if the skin is not crispy enough. Put it on a platter, and let people pull off pieces, like wild animals. They will fight over the skin.
  5. Serve with my Fresh Fennel and Red Pepper Chow-Chow (under "condiments"), and mashed sweet potatoes with apples. Leftover pork, Chow-Chow, and spicy mayo sandwich on ciabatta: very good idea.


  • American
  • Pork
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Vinegar
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Slow Cooker
  • Entree
Contest Entries
  • Your Best Roasted Pork Shoulder
  • Your Best Maple Recipe

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sarah Bradley

  • Rachael Rezek

  • Kim Le Hatfield

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246 Reviews

[emailprotected] May 17, 2022

This is my 7th time to make this recipe...ok I admit it, I love it and the way it makes my house smell! Amazing and wonderful

mac October 22, 2021

This has a lot of great taste and almost doesn't really need a sauce with it - though it is a small commitment to make. Let our experience teach you though: one time we tried to make this using a faster method and IT DID NOT EVEN REMOTELY COMPARE. So don't take any shortcuts on this one.

Lisa April 28, 2019

I love this recipe and am wondering how I would cook it in a Weber. I live in AZ and do not want to use my oven that long. I'm afraid the Weber may dry it out? Thoughts on this?

Lazyretirementgirl September 8, 2019

Maybe try the slow cooker? Eric Kim published a slow cooker pork shoulder recipe which could help with the timing. It was fabulous!

BrentB December 4, 2019

Ive done this recipe a few times now. The last time I cooked a 7.3 LB shoulder in about 8 hrs. You can raise the temp a bit to reduce the cooking time.

Sarah B. February 19, 2019

Leftover Lindeman’s Frambois Lambic Beer (used to braised pork) is most excellent splashed in some dry champagne. I highly recommend.

Sarah B. January 7, 2019

This recipe is SLAP YOUR MAMA GOOD!! I'm telling you in may be one of the best recipes I have ever made! And that's saying something because it's pretty simple to make with few ingredients. At first glance the ingredients seem intimidating because they are not regularly used items in many kitchens. However, the ingredients can be found easily at the grocery store and I found a few substitutions that worked easily with things I already had at home.

Once you make the rub which takes about 15 minutes with the pork prep, you don't have to do much at all! I was worried about going to work with the roast in the oven. I did the 30 minute cook right before bed then lowered the temp when I went to bed around 11 pm. My roast was probably around 6 lbs. When I got up I based with the roast's juices and 1-2 cups of beer around 6 am. Came home at lunch and based it once more around noon. I basted twice which worked well. Used a temp gauge and found that it was cooked so I turned off the oven and left it in the oven. Came home and warmed it up as mentioned under the broiler for 15 minutes and it was perfection! Next time I may see how it works with my schedule and keep in mind that 12 hours may be enough for a smaller roast.

I substituted apple cider vinegar for malt vinegar and it seemed to work fine although I haven't tried the malt yet. We used Lindeman's Framboise lambic beer which I think can be found at big grocery stores. The fruity flavor complemented the rub.

BrenB's comments in the review before mine were SUPER useful.

BrentB December 25, 2018

Ive made this twice now. The second time I really nailed it. The comments are full of great tips which really helped this second time. This time around I made a 10.7 lb Pork Shoulder picnic roast. Some tips that really helped this time:

Fennel: As other suggested, I used half the amount, which still left the subtle hint of fennel and complimented the other flavors.

Syrup: I used dark color grade A. Thanks to wyckham for the helpful link about syrup.

Skin: Basted twice. 6 hours apart. Only used half of the 22oz bottle in total. Also thanks to [emailprotected] for the link to his site with great pictures on how to cut the skin. My first time around I didn’t cut deep enough and ended up with a big piece of leather.

Beer: I couldn’t find Matilda in the stores near me so I used Duvel Belgian Golden Ale. According to some beer sites, Duvel Belgian Golden Ale and Matilda are the same class of beer. Belgian Strong Pale Ale.

Skin Sticking: Put tin foil down in the roasting pan for the first part of the cook. That helped but the skin still stuck to the tin foil. Ill put some kind of oil down next time to help with the sticking.

Cooking Time: First measured my stoves temp without anything in it. Turned out 200 was really 215. I cooked the pork shoulder for 15 hours and hit a temp of 190. The first time I cooked this I took it to 200 and some of the outer piece of lighter meat was dry. Maybe Ill split the difference next time and take it to 195.

The Stall: Susige has a link the hotline discussion and ChefOno talks about “The Stall”, that was a new concept to me and it was helpful when watching the temp stop moving for a while.

Temperature probe is a must. I have the one from termoworks and I couldn’t do this recipe without it.

Ill definitely do this recipe again, it was a real crowd pleaser.

BrentB December 4, 2019

Made this again and this time I cut down on the cayenne powder to about a 1/3. The kids thought the last one was too spicy. This time around they asked for seconds. There was still a hint of heat and the flavors were all there.

Christine P. December 7, 2018

The best pork recipe I have ever made. I enjoyed the long cook time. A great fragrance permeating my kitchen. That shiny, brown roast providing eye candy everytime I basted it. Just like Emily suggested, we each served ourselves with two forks.

Alicia December 2, 2018

I finally got to make this! I made it with a 3lb cut of meat, hoping it would cook faster. It didn’t. It took me a solid 14-15 hours to get the meat tender and close to 200F internal temperature.
Overall, this was a pretty tasty but time consuming recipe. I found the fennel to be overpowering to the point it’s all I can taste on the bark. If I make this again, I’d definitely reduce the fennel by 2/3 so it’s more subtle.
Word to the wise: if you have a digital stove it will auto shut off at 12 hours. I learned this the hard way! Make sure you plan accordingly so your oven doesn’t go cold on you!

Felice S. October 17, 2018

Any comments on how to do the slow cooking in an Instant Pot instead of an oven? Thanks!

Katie August 18, 2018

Do I cover the pork or leave it uncovered while cooking?

Alicia December 2, 2018

Uncovered if you want the top to get crispy.

Melissa August 15, 2018

Hard time locating Grade 'B' Maple Syrup. Used Grade 'A' for recipe. Anyone esle use grade 'A'? Does grade B grade have richer flavor?

Kenna M. October 5, 2018

Yes it is deeper in flavor. I have found it at TJ Max and Marshals’ once in a while, otherwise Amazon

wyckham October 25, 2018

They actually stopped using the Grade ‘B’ name—it’s all Grade ‘A’ but has different sub-categories. See this site for more info:

Rachael R. July 3, 2018

This is the most delicious pork shoulder I've ever had. I didn't want to share any of it (I did, promise). I did the slow roasted method explained here, but honestly will make it in the crock pot next time as it's just as easy.

Kim L. January 4, 2018

Can you adapt this for an Instant Pot?

kim December 29, 2017

This was great! Used only 2/3 of the 22 oz. bottle of beer. Went to the local craft beer shop and they recommended a Brewery Ommegang Abbey Ale from Cooperstown, NY brewery as Matilda not available here. Also reduced the fennel by half.

Claire W. March 1, 2017

I was reading that your Grandma used to cover her ham with "Ginger ale"..and she was from Chicago..Did she use VERNORS ginger ale? I'm wondering as I'm from Michigan..and as Chicago is in the same geographic area..I'm thinking she did..The reason I'm saying this is that other Ginger ales will NOT act or taste the same and someone MAY be dissapointed in your Grandmas cooking.

stacy January 9, 2017

Has anyone done this on the grill? We have a Weber that keeps heat pretty consistent. I just don't want to have my oven on for so long

Allison M. October 2, 2016

Any adaptations if we cook it w. a boneless shoulder instead of bone in?
Thanks in advance.

Deborah W. October 3, 2016

I researched this and one site says that both pork and beef have the same cook times whether bone-in or boneless. Other sites say that boneless may take a bit less time than bone-in. I would cook it by internal temperature. As you can see in my comment below, I had an 8.3 lb bone-in pork butt and it took 15 hours. The internal temp should be around 195 - 200. At 195 the fat has turned to liquid & connective tissue has melted, the meat will just fall apart. I hope that this helps.

Allison M. October 4, 2016

Yes, thank you!

Deborah W. July 18, 2016

I tried this recipe for my anniversary and it was the most delicious, moist, tasty pork I have ever eaten! I followed the recipe ingredients, but used apple cider vinegar instead of beer as I decided to shop for my ingredients between the hours of 2 am - 7 am. (by the way, I found online that the largest bottle of Matilda beer is 22 oz or 2.75 cups). I had an 8.3 lb bone-in, skin on pork butt from Smith's and it took me 15 hours in my oven. The only advice I would offer is to stick with basting only 2 - 3 times. I basted more often and did not end up with the 'cracklin' skin. I googled how to make 'cracklin' and the skin needs to be dry for it to truly crisp up as it should.

Deborah W. July 18, 2016

I meant the I used apple cider NOT apple cider vinegar!

Victoria M. April 15, 2016

This recipe is incredible. We have made it 4-5 times and it always turns out to be moist and full of wonderful depth of flavor. We brew beer so we have tried many different types of beer- all of which, so far, work well. We serve ours generally with a salad, fresh baked cornbread, and some beer mac n' cheese using one of our homebrews. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!!!

Beth March 1, 2017

I need to come live at your house! Yall have the goods :)

Matilda, Maple, and Garlic Pork Shoulder with Crispy Skin Recipe on Food52 (2024)


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