Finishing Pork Shoulder In Oven Benefits
The biggest benefit of finishing a pork shoulder in the oven is a more consistent cooking environment without a fire to attend to.
Smokers can vary in heat throughout a long cook and take constant monitoring to ensure the temperature stays consistent throughout the whole proess.
Ovens do not have this variability and will save you from having to constantly check the temperature as you would a smoker.
Using an oven will also save fuel for your smoker without sacrificing any smoke flavor. Most pitmasters wrap a pork shoulder in foil when the internal temp is between 160-165 degrees.
When the shoulder is wrapped, it can no longer absorb smoke. Putting it in the oven does not limit the smoke flavor in any way. It simply creates a more consistent cook for finishing your shoulder.
What temperature should you finish a pork shoulder in the oven?
Any temperature over 225 degrees is a viable option for finishing your pork shoulder.
If you want to continue to cook the shoulder low and slow then the recommended temperature would be in the 225-250 degree range.
If you wanted to speed the process up a bit more, you could increase the temperature as high as 300 or 350 degrees. However, this can impact the quality of the final product in a couple of ways.
When you smoke a pork shoulder, the goal is to keep shoulder on the cooker as long as possible to let the collagen, or the substance that makes the meat tough, break down. If you speed up the cook, it limits the amount of time the collagen has to break down.
Collagen begins to break down at an internal temperature of 160 degrees. So lengthening the cooking process out will help the collagen fully render resulting in extremely tender and moist pork!
Increasing the temperature also increases the chance of overcooking the meat.
The ideal internal temperature for pulled pork is 205 degrees. If the shoulder goes too high above this temperature, any moisture inside of the meat will begin to evaporate leaving the shoulder dry.
When to finish the pork shoulder in the oven?
Finish your pork shoulder in the oven when it reaches an internal temp of 160-165 degrees.
Pulling the pork shoulder off the smoker around 160 degrees gives the shoulder a chance to absorb a ton of smoke before getting wrapped and put in the oven.
Most pitmasters when finishing their shoulder in a smoker will wrap the shoulder to stop it from taking on too much smoke and turn bitter.
Putting a shoulder in the oven wrapped in foil is the same as finishing the shoulder in foil on the smoker. From this point on you are cooking it to temperature, not looking to add more flavor into the meat.
When the shoulder is wrapped and in the oven, set the temperature to 225 degrees.
This will allow the shoulder to cook low and slow, allowing for the majority of the collagen to break down!
What internal temperature should the pork shoulder reach?
Cook the pork shoulder to an internal temperature of 205 degrees.
Pork is food safe at an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
However, this will result in a piece of meat that needs to be carved, not shredded. Pork shoulders are a very tough piece of meat and need time for the collagen, or the connective tissue that holds all the muscle fibers closely together, to break down and liquidify.
Collagen begins theis process at 160 degrees and the longer you can keep the shoulder above this internal temperature, the more collage will break down.
Does a pork shoulder in the oven need to be wrapped?
Yes, it is vital to wrap a shoulder to ensure flavorful and juicy pulled pork.
When you wrap a shoulder, you are trapping the meat’s fat, juices, or any liquid you have added for the pork shoulder to be cooked in. When you pull the shoulder and leave it wrapped, all of these flavors will be reabsorbed by the shoulder as rests.
If a pork shoulder is not wrapped, all of these juices will either evaporate or drip off of the meat. The drippings of the shoulder need to be saved to add back into the pork once it has been shredded to help make the pork juicy and flavorful!
How long to finish a pork shoulder in the oven at 350 degrees?
When finishing a shoulder in the oven at 350 degrees expect to cook the shoulder for 55-85 min per pound.
The goal for the shoulder’s internal temperature is 205 degrees for pulled pork. A quick note is that pork can be safely consumed at an internal temperature of 160 degrees. However, this will result in pork that needs to be carved rather than shredded. At an internal temperature of 205 degrees the pork will have time to let the collagen break down and create amazing pulled pork.