Bone-in, whole sections of meat are becoming more and more popular. By leaving the bone in, you get very unique and complex flavors from the tissues that break down and melt and then get reabsorbed into the meat.
Most often, people use traditional braising methods (browning the meat and partially submerging it in stock with onions, tomatoes, and celery) to make this meat tender and delicious. But that’s not the only way. Here, we create an Indian-style vindaloo dish using a whole bone-in shoulder with the shank attached. By browning the meat on a Traeger, we’re adding a smoky element as well. (Alternatively, you can use a large cookie sheet and an oven.)
Pair this with some homemade naan and wild rice, and you’ve got a feast for the whole family — and maybe a friend or two. But this method requires an overnight marinade, so plan ahead.
4-8 servings (depending on shoulder size)
1 whole front shoulder (shank attached, if it’s a small shoulder)
3 large 12”x 20” foil roasting pans (get a roasting pan as close to the size of your shoulder as possible, and double them up to prevent leaks)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoons tamarind
1 tablespoons garam masala
1 two-gallon, zip-close bag
2 large onions
4 to 5 tomatoes
1/2 cup peeled and sliced ginger
10 to 15 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
3 ounces clarified butter (this helps give the onions a deep brown color, without burning the butter)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 to 4 teaspoons cayenne (depends on your preference; if you can find it, the milder kashmiri chili powder can be substituted for the cayenne, although you would need to double the amount of kashmiri)
2 to 3 cups beef stock
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped and stems removed (for garnish)
Rinse the shoulder with cold water, pat dry with a paper towel, and place in the 2-gallon, zip-close bag. Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a whisk. Add the marinade to the shoulder in the bag. When sealing it, remove as much air as you can.
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Browning the meat: You can use a barbecue, a smoker or an oven to brown the shoulder.
For a barbecue or smoker: Heat it as high as it will go (400+ F). Remove the shoulder from the marinade, and pat it dry. Save the leftover marinade in a small bowl, and reserve it for later. Place the shoulder on the grill, and brown it for approximately 6-8 minutes on each side. Remove from heat, and place it in the foil roasting pan.
For an oven: Heat it to 450 F. Cover a large cooking tray with tin foil. Make sure the tray has a lip that’s at least a 1/2 inch (if not larger) to catch the liquid that forms during the browning process. Set the oven to broil, and brown each side (approximately 3 minutes per side). Remove from heat, and place it in the foil roasting pan.
To make the puree: In a tall blender, combine all the listed ingredients and mix on high for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Set aside.
To make the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the butter and chopped onions. Brown the onions until they reach a very dark brown.
Next, add all of the dry sauce ingredients except the brown sugar and stir continuously. As soon as the dry ingredients have toasted and become aromatic, usually around 1 minute, deglaze the pan by adding the remaining marinade and 1 cup of the beef stock. Bring to a boil. Now add the puree mixture and the sugar and stir well. Bring the sauce to a boil and then remove from the heat.
Add the sauce to the roasting pan. There should be enough sauce to cover two-thirds of the shoulder. Add more beef stock as needed (it does not have to be fully covered). Cover tightly with tin foil.
Set the oven or smoker to 280 F. Cook for 4 to 5 hours (cook times can vary for each shoulder), but what you want is fork-tender meat that falls off the bone.
Remove the shoulder from the roasting pan, and place it in the third remaining roasting pan. Using 2 forks, try to get all the meat off the bones, and remove the bones from the pan. Cover the pan with tin foil, and place it in the oven at 180 F or as low as it will go.
Take the sauce from the roasting pan, and put it back in the large saucepan. On medium heat, bring the sauce to a slow boil and reduce it to desired thickness. The fat should separate out on the top. Skim the fat off the top with a ladle or spoon.
Plate a serving of meat (4-6 ounces), and add a spoonful of sauce over the top. Serve with rice and naan.