When it comes to slow-cooking pork shoulder, achieving that perfect combination of tender, juicy meat and rich flavours can be a challenge. However, with sous vide cooking, you can effortlessly create a mouthwatering pork shoulder that will leave everyone wanting more. Are you ready to try something new and experiment in the kitchen? With this sous vide pork shoulder recipe we have created flavours and beautiful plating that will wow your guests and take your cooking to the next level. So let’s get started.
There’s a reason chefs and restaurants around the world use the sous vide cooking method to get perfect results every time! If you haven't cooked this way before it may seem a little daunting but once you have tried it there may be no going back! In this recipe guide, we'll walk you through the ins and outs of cooking pork shoulder using the sous vide technique, ensuring that you achieve the most tender and flavorful results possible.
For an alternative cooking method, check out our delicious slow-roasted pork oyster shoulder recipe.
What is sous vide cooking?
Sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing food in a bag and cooking it in a precisely controlled water bath. This gentle and precise cooking method ensures that the pork shoulder is cooked evenly and retains its natural juices. Resulting in an exceptionally tender, perfectly cooked piece of meat.
Benefits of sous vide for pork shoulder
Sous vide cooking is particularly well-suited for pork shoulder. To get a bit technical, the low and slow cooking process allows the collagen in the pork shoulder to break down gradually, resulting in a fork-tender texture. This tender result also makes it a popular process for creating pulled pork. Additionally, the sealed bag locks in the flavours, ensuring that the meat is incredibly flavorful.
Equipment you will need
To cook sous vide you will need:
- a sous vide immersion circulator
- a vacuum sealer with plastic bags (recommend 70 micron)
- a container for the water bath.
Ideally, your water bath container will have a lid, if not you can use aluminium foil to wrap over the container to help hold the temperature.
These tools are readily available and can be easily found online or at kitchen supply stores. We highly recommend the Anova Precision Cooker.
Our quick guide to sous vide cooking
This cooking method popular with chefs may seem daunting to most home cooks, but the basic process is a simple one.
Water Bath Setup
Fill a container or a large pot with water and attach the sous vide immersion circulator. Set the desired temperature and preheat the water bath.
Place the prepared meat into your plastic bag. Vacuum sealing will remove the air and ensure optimal heat transfer during cooking.
1. Place the sealed meat into the preheated water bath.
2. Ensure that the bag is fully submerged, and there are no air pockets.
3. Cook the for the recommended time, based on your desired level of doneness.
4. If you are using an aluminium foil cover over your water bath, keep an eye on the water level and top up if required.
Chef tips to sous vide cooking
- To enhance the flavour of your food, prior to cooking add a marinade or a dry rub. This will add flavour to the meat before it is sealed in the bag. Ensure that the seasoning is evenly distributed on the meat for maximum flavour.
- For smaller cuts of meat, like beef fillet, sirloin, lamb backstraps, chicken breasts, after the sous vide process, sear in a hot pan or skillet. This step adds another layer of delicious flavour and texture.
Temperature and time guidelines
For pork shoulder, the temperature recommendations range between 63°C / 145°F and 74°C / 165°F. Cooking times typically range from 12 to 24 hours, allowing the collagen to break down gradually for that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
The sous vide cook time for this recipe is 12 hours at 70°C / 158°F
- Pork shoulder - Use a boneless, skin-on pork shoulder with a good amount of marbling, as this will help the tenderness and flavour. Aim for a piece that weighs around 1.3 - 1.8 kg (3 to 4 pounds), which is ideal for sous vide cooking.
- White potatoes
- Bacon - we used scotch bacon but use what's available to you.
- Wholegrain mustard
- Crab apples - small crab apples work best but you could also use standard apples and quarter them.
- Star anise
- Caster sugar
- Green peas (fresh of frozen will work)
- Salt and pepper - to season
- Edible flower petals
See our recipe card below for a full list of quantities.
Pro tip - Read through the whole recipe prior to making this dish and create a plan around the order of prepping and cooking each element.
Sous vide the pork shoulder
Do this the day before serving.
- Preheat the water bath to 70°C / 158°F.
- Season the flesh side of the pork and place it into a bag and vacuum seal the bag.
- Place the vacuum-packed pork shoulder into the preheated water bath and allow to cook for 12 hours.
- After 12 hours remove the shoulder from the water bath.
- Now you want to press the shoulder overnight, this will help you create nice even, flat portions of pork. So place the pork shoulder, still sealed in the bag, into a tray. Find a heavy dish to place on top, adding some weight to it. You want to aim for an even press so the shoulder is a consistent thickness. Leave for an hour to cool then place the tray in the fridge.
On the day of serving:
- Portion the pork - remove the pork shoulder from the vacuum bag and reserve the gel that has set around the meat. Cut the shoulder into even portions (approximately 200g each) and set aside.
- Prepare the other elements of the dish. There are some classic pork flavour pairings in this dish with apples, peas, mustard and crispy bacon mash!
- While the other elements are cooking make your sauce. Add the reserved gel to a pot, bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the liquid until it has reduced down to a sauce like consistency. Once you are happy with the consistency of the sauce strain.
Crisp and heat the pork:
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ / 356℉
- Heat a nonstick (and oven-proof) frying pan over a high heat and add a little oil.
- Pat dry the pork portions with a paper towel, season with a pinch of salt and (carefully) place into the pan skin side down. Allow the skin to start to crisp ( 2 - 3 minutes), then place the pan (pork still skin side down) directly into the preheated oven for 12 mins. This will heat the pork through and further crisp the skin.
Once all of the elements of the dish are ready, it's time for plating. View our image below for inspiration and have some fun making your plates look as stunning as they will taste.
Serve immediately and enjoy.
Sous vide cooking is a game-changer when it comes to cooking pork shoulder. With its ability to produce perfectly tender and flavorful results, it's no wonder that sous vide has gained popularity among home cooks. By following our comprehensive recipe guide, you can achieve the most succulent and delicious sous vide pork shoulder you've ever tasted. So, fire up your sous vide cooker, gather your ingredients, and get ready to impress your family and friends with this mouthwatering dish.
Sous Vide Pork Shoulder
- 1 Pork shoulder Skin on, bone out (See note 1)
- 3 Medium Potatoes
- 100 g Scotch bacon (3.5 oz) Sliced into lardons
- 1 Spring onion Thin sliced
- 2 tablespoon Wholegrain mustard
- 12 Crab apples (See note 2)
- 2 Star anise
- 60 g Caster sugar (2.1 oz)
- 200 g Green peas (7 oz) Fresh or frozen
- Salt To season
To garnish (Optional)
- Edible flower petals
Sous vide - Cook the day before
- Fill a large tub with water and attach your sous vide machine, set to 70°C / 158°F and allow to heat.
- Take your pork shoulder and season the flesh side. Place into a vacuum bag and seal in a vacuum sealer.
- Place your vacuum packed shoulder into your water bath and set a timer for 12 hours.
- After 12 hours of cooking, place the pork (still in the bag) on a tray and add some weight to press the pork. Place in the fridge overnight with the weight in place.
Portion the pork - On the day you plan to serve:
- Remove the shoulder from the vacuum bag, and keep all the gel that has set around the pork.
- Cut your shoulder into desired portions using the skin as the top of the portion (approx 200g each) and set aside.
Preparing the other elements:
- These next few elements can be prepared at the same time, take a minute to read ahead and get everything in pots ready to go.
- Peel your potatoes, add to a pot and cover with water, boil until soft and mash. Fry the scotch bacon lardons until crisp, add to your mashed potato along with the sliced spring onion and seeded mustard, mix well. Season to taste. Keep warm.
- In a small pot add the sugar, star anise and crab apples, top with cold water and place on the heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and then allow to cool in the poaching liquid.
- For the pea puree, place the peas into a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil, strain off the water (reserve a little). Keep some peas for plating. Place the remaining peas in a blender and blend into a puree, add a little of the pea water if needed to give you a smooth puree. Season to taste.
- To make the sauce. Take all the reserved gel and place it into a pot, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Reduce the sauce until it is a sauce consistency and strain.
Crisp the skin and heat the pork:
- Preheat your oven to 180℃ / 356℉. And heat a (ovenproof) nonstick frying pan/ skillet till hot and add a little oil.
- Pat dry the portioned pork pieces with a paper towel and season with a pinch of salt. Carefully, place the pork skin side down into the hot pan and allow the skin to crisp (approx 2-3 minutes). Keep the pork portions skin side down and place the pan into the preheated oven for 12 minutes, this will further crisp the skin and heat the pork through.
Plating: See our image for inspiration.
- Grab your plates and arrange the warm potato mix, pea puree and peas as you wish. Place the pork portions and crab apples onto the palate then spoon around your sauce. Garnish with fresh watercress and edible flowers, if using.
- Serve and enjoy.