Elis Halenko is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Halenko Creative Agency.
She first developed her interest in nutrition while visiting her mother’s favorite wellness stores as a child, feeling a bit like a Hogwarts student looking up at shelves upon towering shelves of herbs, dried foods and concoctions.
After graduation from Ryerson University’s Nutrition & Food program, food photography began working its way into her life—and as her experience grew, so did her passion for food art.
When shopping for pork shoulder, you may find the label read: pork shoulder or pork butt. You may be wondering why this cut is called “pork butt” when it doesn’t come from the actual rear? Years ago pork shoulders in the U.S. were stored or shipped in barrels, which were called “butts,” so the name “pork butt” or “Boston butt” became popular in North America.
Sometimes your grocer may also just have capicola, a traditional Italian pork cold-cut made from the muscle running from the neck to the 4th or 5th rib of the pork shoulder or neck. Pork shoulder chops are also sold with bones, but those are less common.
I love pork shoulder for several reasons. First of all, it tastes great roasted! It’s also good for braising and being thrown on the barbeque. Pork shoulder also makes for quick dinners with little preparation. Pulled pork can easily be made by setting your slow cooker before you leave for work—when you get home, simply pull apart with two forks, add your favourite barbeque sauce, and presto, dinner is served!
Some people argue that pork isn’t their favorite protein to work with because it can be hard to keep moist and tender. That doesn’t apply to this Chipotle Lime Pork Shoulder with Avocado Sauce. It is juicy and delicious!
Chipotle Lime Pork Shoulder
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus marinating time)
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
- About 3 pounds of pork shoulder
- 3 Tbsp chipotle mango spice powder
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp of chili powder
- 1/2 tsp of paprika
- 1/2 chipotle pepper, chopped and de-seeded (optional)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil, for grilling
- 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
Creamy Avocado Sauce
- 1 avocado, split with pit removed
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or light garlic mayo
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- Salt and pepper, to taste
To start, combine the chipotle and mango spice (I used the brand Club House from Loblaws), lime juice, honey, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and chipotle pepper. Pour the marinade mixture into a 1-gallon resealable bag.
Chop the pork shoulder into bite-sized pieces, about 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch, and place these pieces into the sealable bag with the marinade. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Place the bag in a bowl in the fridge, in case there are any leaks. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours.
About 1 hour before dinnertime, skewer the marinated pork shoulder pieces on kabob sticks. If you are using wooden sticks, be sure to soak them in water for a few minutes so they don’t burn on the grill. Pre-heat the BBQ at medium heat.
If you have a kitchen helper, you can distribute the remaining tasks: one person can grill while the other prepares the avocado sauce. If not, I would prepare the avocado sauce and chop up some fresh cilantro next.
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Scoop the mixture into a serving dish and set aside. Serving this at room temperature is fine, but if you want to keep it chilled in the fridge before serving, that’s an option too!
Now it’s time to cook those chipotle lime pork skewers! Brush the grill with vegetable oil and place the skewers over direct heat. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 degrees F.
Remove the pork shoulder skewers from the grill and place on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap tightly and let the meat rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with the avocado sauce.
Here’s a freezer tip: place the marinade and pork together in a freezer bag. When ready to use, defrost in the refrigerator and cook according to directions.
Try it for yourself!