Crispy Pineapple Pork Shoulder

This is one of my favorite recipes for both parties and for prepping food for the week. My wife and I recently had a son and making this dish is a great time saver that helps us stay social with baby Max. Most of the cooking is hands-off, the recipe is dead simple, and you prepare the sauce along with the main dish. The skin ends up perfectly crisp, while the meat stays tender and juicy. And if you end up just making it for dinner, the leftovers are perfect for revisiting and reinventing throughout the week.

I’ve created a few variants below including one using Cinnamon Buds.

Shabazi N.38 – Recipe by Christian Leue

Makes one roast


For the Pork

One 6-8 pound bone-in skin-on pork shoulder (ask your butcher if your grocery store doesn’t offer this normally)

Chunky Pineapple Sauce

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1 inch rings
1 tablespoon Shabazi N.38 blend
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dark rum
Brown sugar, to taste (this will depend on the sweetness of the pineapple, figure 1-4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons soy sauce


One 13 x 18″ sheet pan with wire rack
Aluminum foil (the 18″ wide heavy duty style is easiest)
Ice chest (optional)


• Preheat your oven to 200°F.

• Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of your baking pan to catch any drips, place the wire rack on top of this. If your rack isn’t a fairly small mesh place another sheet of aluminum foil on top of it to help keep the roast from sinking through as it cooks. Perforate this sheet all over with a fork so the juices can run through.

• Score the shoulder with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, cutting through the skin but not all the way through the fat into to meat (this step is the key to this recipe, without scoring the skin the crisping process takes too long; the skin burns before it gets nicely crisp). Rub the roast all over with a light coating of salt and place, skin side up, in the center of the rack. Place the pineapple slices on foil sheets (a few slices in each packet, however many you can fit), sprinkle with Shabazi N.38, and wrap them tightly. Arrange these foil packets around the pork shoulder.

• Cook for about 8-9 hours (so you can start it in the morning or do it overnight and hold until dinnertime, more on that later). Wait until the pork has cooled for 30 minutes and carefully transfer it to a sheet of clean foil. Wrap tightly, then wrap in kitchen towels and let the roast come down to eating temperature (about 1.5-2 hours). Alternatively place the foil wrapped roast in a small ice chest and wait until dinnertime. Clean the rack you used in the sheet pan you’ll be using it again later.

• Drain the fat from the aluminum foil (discarding or reserving for another use) that you lined the sheet pan with and place the foil in a small saucepan, add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and scrape the foil gently to dissolve all of the pan drippings and make a thin broth. Carefully unwrap the pineapple, adding the juices to the pot, and slice the rings into small pieces. Reduce the broth by 1/3 then add the chopped pineapple to the pot along with cider vinegar, dark rum, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Chill and hold until you are ready to serve the roast.

• Before serving: Preheat the oven to 475°F. Place a fresh sheet of aluminum foil on your baking sheet and the rack on top of that. Place the roast skin side up in the center of the rack and cook until the skin is puffy and crispy (generally 20-25 minutes depending on your oven’s actual temperature). Check frequently to make sure the skin does not burn (a spot or two is fine). Reheat the sauce and remove the roast to a cutting board.

• Serve with the roasted pineapple sauce on the side and make sure to eat the skin first while it is still crisp and airy. All you need is a fork to pull the meat apart, it’ll be that tender. The meat is great in lettuce cups or in warm flour tortillas (if you want to use everything try using the reserved fat from roasting to make your tortillas).

Fun to try

• For a twist on a holiday classic, stud the shoulder with Cinnamon Buds where the cuts you made meet, and bake sliced apples instead of pineapple, seasoning with a bit of Smoked Salt. For the sauce chop the apples fine, then add the reduced drippings and season to taste. Great with a bit of maple or brown sugar if your apples are tart.

• Shred leftovers and combine with ketchup, vinegar, and Amber N.2 for easy pulled pork. Great in sandwiches and as an hors d’ouevre wrapped in a thin slice of dill pickle and held with a toothpick.

• Experiment with seasonal fruits and spices for the sauce. Some ideas: hard peaches and Mishmish N.33, quince and Ana N.36, green mango and Noga N.17, and play with other sweeteners, flavorful alcohols, and sources of acidity and salt. Softer fruits will yield more of a jammy consistency for the sauce and are worth trying too! Or just stir jam (blueberry is great) into the pan drippings, then season.

• Some ideas from my brother Patrick: add shredded pork to macaroni and cheese (great with Swiss), or use some as a base for pozole (try this with cooked polenta cubes and Shabazi broth).

Past October Recipes

2016 – Autumn Margarita


Food image and recipe © Christian Leue

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