What to Do With Pork Shoulder Bone Before & After Cooking

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Raw Cut Pork Shoulder On Wooden Board

When you have a pork shoulder bone on hand, what’s the best way to use it? Whether you’ve removed it from the shoulder before cooking or want to repurpose your leftovers, this guide has you covered. 

What to Do with Pork Shoulder Bone

The best way to use up pork shoulder bones is to make a rich broth or stock. Store any leftover bones in the freezer until you have enough to make a large pot of broth. Once you have this liquid gold on hand, you can use it to make soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, and much more. 

About Pork Shoulder

The term “pork shoulder” can be confusing. Not because it’s incorrect, but because there are other words used to describe portions of the cut that can be misleading. 

A whole pork shoulder consists of the entire top portion of the hog’s foreleg. This includes the barrel-shaped segment near the top, as well as the triangular part that travels down toward the hock. 

That barrel-shaped portion is called “pork butt” or “Boston butt.” This terminology leads many beginners to believe that the cut comes from the rear of the animal, which is understandable enough. But the truth is, the “butt” is located in the region that should be considered the shoulder. 

The lower triangular section is the part that gets labeled as “pork shoulder.” It’s actually part of the leg, so you can see how easy it would be for folks to become confused. 

The whole pork shoulder is seldom left intact. It’s possible to find, but butchers have an easier time selling it if they divide the butt and the shoulder before packaging the meat for sale. 

Before butchering, the whole shoulder weighs about 12 to 18 pounds. The butt portion typically weighs in at 5 to 10, while the shoulder section makes up 4 to 10 pounds of the mass. 

Butchering  Pork Shoulder On Wooden Board

Both cuts are flavorful and rich, with plenty of connective tissue and fat. The shoulder is often sold with the skin on, which makes for an impressive presentation. Pork butt is the most popular cut for pulled pork, but you can use the shoulder for that as well. 

What to Do with Raw Pork Shoulder Bone

First of all, if you’ve purchased a bone-in pork shoulder or butt, leave the bone where it is. It’s going to contribute richness and complexity to your finished dish, no matter what you have planned. 

Pork shoulder bones that have already been removed are a different story. You can use these to make bone broth or stock, then create savory soups and stews with the results. Many Asian dishes such as pho, ramen, and wonton soup rely on pork bones as their base. 

Pork bones can also be used to enrich Italian cuisine. A handmade agnolotti in a bone-based broth will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about stuffed pasta dishes. 

What to Do With Leftover Pork Shoulder Bone

Once you’ve cooked off the pork shoulder, don’t be so quick to throw the bone away. There may be a great deal of meat left on it. Even if there’s not, though, the bone hasn’t outlasted its usefulness. 

In fact, you can use the bone from a cooked pork shoulder almost exactly as you would use a raw pork bone. There should still be a great deal of collagen involved, and the cooked bone will add more depth to the broth or sauce. 

What to Do with Pork Shoulder Bone

Pork Bone Broth

This version works best with raw pork bones. I’ve included a recipe for leftover pork bone broth below. 

Ingredients 

  • 3 pounds pork bones 
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved 
  • 1 leek, trimmed, halved, and thoroughly rinsed
  • 3 celery ribs (no need to remove the leaves) 
  • 1 whole carrot, halved
  • 4 cloves raw garlic 
  • 1 piece raw ginger (about 2 inches) 
  • 20 whole peppercorns 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste 
Pork Bone Broth Soupe

Directions 

1. Place the bones in a large stock pot. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, and vinegar. 

2. Add 6 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming away any foam that rises to the top. 

3. Reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot. 

4. Simmer, skimming the surface as necessary and stirring the pot every hour or so, for 12 to 16 hours. You might need to add a bit more water from time to time. 

5. Cool and strain the broth and season with salt to taste. 

Leftover Pork Bone Broth

Because the bones are already cooked, this broth comes together more quickly. Nonetheless, you should give it a minimum of 6 hours to allow the flavors to develop. 

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds leftover pork shoulder bones 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 onions, cut into quarters 
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch segments 
  • 1 carrot, cut into 2-inch segments 
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled 
  • 20 whole peppercorns 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Directions 

1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. 

2. Add the leftover bones to the pot. Fill with 6 quarts cold water. 

3. Add peppercorns and cider vinegar and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Skim away any foam that rises to the surface using a slotted spoon or fine-mesh strainer. 

4. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low. The mixture should be simmering gently. 

5. Partially cover the pot and simmer, stirring and skimming every hour or as needed, for 6 to 8 hours. 

6. Let the broth cool slightly, then strain and season with salt. 

How To Store Pork Bone Broth 

Keep the broth in nonreactive containers. Glass quart jars work best, especially if they’ve never been used for anything else. Wait for the broth to cool before you attempt to put it into the jars. 

The broth should keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. If you opt to freeze it, make sure to leave at least 2 inches of clear space at the top of each jar. In the freezer, the broth should keep for up to 6 months. 

There’s no need to defrost the broth before you reheat it. However, it might need to thaw for a bit before you can get it out of the jar. You can speed this along by running the sealed jar under cool water. 

Store Pork Bone Broth Soupe in Glass Jars

What to Do with Leftover Pork Drippings and Fat 

Don’t throw away the drippings that are left behind after you’ve cooked the pork, either. These byproducts contributed immensely to the success of your initial dish. Now it’s time to set them aside so they can help any leftovers live up to their full potential. 

Use the drippings to lend richness to pork ragù or a pot of rice and beans. You can also add them to a store-bought chicken stock to give it a more authentic flair. 

As far as the fat is concerned, you can use it to crisp up your leftover pork. This is especially important if you’ve made carnitas (pork shoulder cooked slowly in its own fat), which benefit from a crackling-crisp texture. It makes a great base for refried beans and fried rice as well. 

I like to keep a couple of ice cube trays on hand that are dedicated to leftover fat and drippings. Wait for everything to cool down a bit, then use a spatula to remove the liquid and fat to the trays. Then pop the trays in the freezer until you need them. 

Final Thoughts 

Pork shoulder bones make excellent broth because they’re loaded with collagen, which contributes both body and flavor. If you’ve never had homemade pork bone broth before, prepare to be amazed by the results. 

Happy grilling!

Darren Wayland Avatar

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