Can you finish off pork shoulder by cooking or warming it in the oven? Absolutely. How long and how to go about it are the key and they depend on how the meat was cooked in the first place.
Generally, pork shoulder can be cooked as a roast anywhere from a low heat (250 degrees) to a high heat (450 degrees). How long you finish the meat then depends on how fast it will cool.
You can finish the meat in the oven anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to as long as 3 to 4 hours. The trick is to understand how it heated up in the first place, what that did to the meat, and then what to expect as it is cooling down.
The benefits can be everything from an extremely juicy main course to a thorough cooking of the meat and reduced burning internally.
The Ideal Temperature for Finishing Pork Shoulder in the Oven
Believe it or not, if you are going to use the oven, the finishing time can be prolonged by heating up the oven first to about 150 degrees. However, once you are ready to put the cooked meat inside for resting, then the oven heat needs to be turned off.
The ambient heat inside will sustain for quite a while, similar to a professional caterer’s storage oven, given the design of the oven walls. This ambient heat, combined with the cooked pork’s own temperature, will combine to keep it very warm for an extended period of time. And that produces the desired effect of juices distributing from the core of the meat to the edges again.
Finish Pork Shoulder in the Oven at 350
When you’re up in the range above 350 degrees, the meat is cooking at a high level.
That means the outside of the pork is taking the brunt of the cooking heat blast and drying out considerably. The juices are retracting into the middle of the meat, and the edges tend to go dry. The high heat will cook juices inside the meat, causing some of it to evaporate, but the edges can end up being tougher due to a lack of moisture.
To reverse this process and have the pork juicy all the way around, the meat needs to rest for some time to let the juices spread out again. The higher the cooking heat, the longer it takes per pound. One can expect at least 10 to 30 minutes per pound, and with the higher heat, err on the longer side of the clock since it takes longer for the juices to penetrate the dried-out perimeter.
Finish Pork Shoulder in the Oven at 300
Alternatively, if the pork shoulder was cooked at a lower heat, less of the perimeter is dried out and has retained more of its moisture.
Expect that the meat will not need to rest as long because the juices can distribute faster to the edge since the meat is not as dried out as if it were at a higher temperature. This means for finishing, one should plan for either sustaining a warm ambient temperature to finish the pork shoulder longer, or expect to serve or store it faster.
What Internal Temperature Should the Pork Reach?
When cooking or grilling pork shoulder, the ideal target point for an internal temperature is about 145 to 150 degrees for a rare treatment. For something closer to medium or well done, it’s not that different, in the range of 155 to 160 degrees. This is where folks overcook pork meat very easily because the difference in the range is very small.
Once that meat is hitting 145 degrees internally, it needs to be watched closely for the desired target. Cooking pork shoulder right takes some practice, so don’t expect it to be perfect the first time out. Resting the meat afterwards gives you some room for forgiveness as well.
Does a Pork Shoulder in Oven Need to be Wrapped?
The short answer is, yes, and the way to do it is wrapping the cooked pork shoulder with tin foil if not already wrapped. The foil acts as an insulator preventing the heat from the cooked pork from escaping too quickly.
Left to open air, even in the oven, the meat will cool down quickly. The air draws out the meat and forces it to drop back to the ambient temperature level.
This could be offset by using a warmed oven, but the pork will still lose its cooking heat quickly. By wrapping the meat, the internal heat released will bounce back at the meat from the foil and recycle, keeping the meat warmer longer as its immediate surrounding air inside the foil is just as hot.
This in turn gives you a longer finishing time potential and better results in how the meat turns out with a juicier consistency versus just the center of the pork.