Soft Shoulder – Pork. Simple, Easy, Awesome!

This is a really simple recipe that even makes its own BBQ sauce with a little extra effort at the end. If you like pulled pork, carnitas, shredded pork tacos, BBQ pork, etc., this is an easy way to get there.

Tender and Tasty Pork
Tender and Tasty Pork


5 lb.             Pork Shoulder in 3” cubes
2 cans         Hunts tomato paste (6oz)
1 Tbs.          Kosher Salt
1 Tbs.          Ground cumin
1 Tbs.          Smoked paprika
2 Tbs.         Chili powder
2 oz.            Fresh lime juice
3 oz.            Fresh orange juice  or  2 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbs.         Dark Molasses
1 lg.             Onion, ¼” slices
1 Tbs.          Brown sugar
8-12 ea.      Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped




In a very large bowl, combine tomato paste, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and lime and orange juice (or vinegar) and molasses. Mix thoroughly.

Add the meat, and toss to coat meat with the tomato paste mixture.

Lay onion slices into the bottom of the slow cooker, covering as much of the bottom as possible. Sprinkle with sugar.

Toss half of the chopped garlic into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add all of the meat, scrape the remaining tomato paste mixture out of the bowl and onto the top of the meat, and toss the rest of the garlic in too.

Set the cooker on LOW for about 5-6 hours until the meat is simmering in a large quantity of liquid and is fork tender. Be careful, some slow cookers produce a little too much heat, even on LOW, so if after about 4 hours, the liquid in the cooker is boiling instead of simmering, turn the cooker off for a while. Wait for it to stop boiling and then turn it back on until it simmers. Repeat this cycle as needed.

Remove the meat and cooked onions from the cooker, and transfer all of the remaining liquid to a medium saucepan, as a base for some homemade BBQ sauce. You can use it like a gravy or add (any or all of) a little more brown sugar, some apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, molasses, bourbon, smoked salt, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, orange juice, a sprig of rosemary, strong coffee, Dijon mustard or whatever else you might like in your BBQ sauce. Simmer the liquid to about half its original volume tasting as you go, until the BBQ sauce is to your liking.

Homemade BBQ Sauce
Homemade BBQ Sauce

Pig out!

2 thoughts on “Soft Shoulder – Pork. Simple, Easy, Awesome!”

    1. The texture is very similar, and I think this is a little more tender and certainly juicier and more moist. But, that is due to the fact that they slow cooked theirs in an actual smoker, which naturally tends to dry the outside more, but gives it a very tasty “crust” and imparts that through and through BBQ smoke, which this pork doesn’t have. Essentially, this pork develops its own liquid, early in the cooking time, which afterwards makes this pork “braised,” which is a very different process than smoking it with real wood.

      If you add some “Liquid Smoke” to the ingredients, or to the BBQ sauce you make from the juices, this dish approximates the old El Paso BBQ product quite closely, but, truthfully, there’s no substitute for actual slow smoking with fragrant wood, if you want the authentic old West BBQ flavor.

      Now, this preparation actually is more like the typical Carnitas style pork as you might find at Macayo’s, less emphasis on smokiness and with the flavors of Mexico from the lime and cumin, but again, their spicing and flavorings are unique to their traditional family recipes, so naturally, theirs tastes different. Texture of the meat, though, is very similar, with this pork possibly a little more tender than even theirs due to the long braising time. Lastly, keep in mind that traditional Carnitas are pan fried in a tiny bit of oil over very high heat just before being served. This produces the chewy crunchy caramelized bits that add flavor and texture to the dish. This pork is perfect for that, whether you shred it or serve it in small “chunks” as is traditional.

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