Polish Grilled Pork Shoulder {Karkówka z Grila}


I spent a little bit of time trying to decide what to prepare for you this week. Only a little, though. As soon as I thought about it, I saw myself with a bunch of friends, in the back garden hovering over the grill. Air is filled with smoke, and I can hear meat sizzling over hot coals. It almost smells like bacon, but better. I can also pick out garlic and herbs. We’re grilling pork shoulder cutlets. This is not a usual cut of meat for Americans, but so obvious for us Poles. Flavorful fat is melting into the meat making it an easy cut for a grill master of any level. You can’t overcook or screw this one up.

Karkówka z grila [kahr-coov-ka z gree-lah], along the side of sausage, is an essential component of a Polish summer. You see (and smell it) everywhere. You can buy it whole and cut and spice it yourself, or sliced and seasoned, ready for the grill. Think about it… it is a pretty fatty piece. Fat melts into the meat and creates a perfectly tender, salty pork cutlet infused with aromatic garlic and herbs. I think you will be surprised by how well this turns out. As a matter of fact, my American husband (the grill-master) when asked to grill this for the first time, said: “this is never gonna work” (insert eye-roll), see his note below.

Polish Grilled Pork Shoulder {Karkówka z Grila}

  • Prep Time: 15 min (+ 2 hours in cooler)
  • Cook Time: About 10-15 min


  • Boneless pork shoulder
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Garlic (1 clove per cutlet)
  • Paprica
  • Dried Marjoram
  • Additionally:
  • A mallet


  1. Wash and dry pork shoulder. Slice it into about 3/4 inch / 2 cm cutlets. Place a kitchen towel on the counter and a cutting board on top of it. Pound each cutlet with a mallet into thin cutlets (about 1/4 in / 1 cm).

  2. Peel garlic (about 1 small clove per cutlet) and put it through a garlic press or mince. Sprinkle each cutlet with a pinch of salt, pepper, paprika, marjoram and garlic. Place in a bowl and refrigerate overnight or for a couple of hours.

  3. Grill over medium heat until the fat melts and meat is golden brown (see grill-master's thoughts and instructions below).


So I love grilling, like I REALLY love grilling. So when my wife told me how she wanted me to treat these lovely pig parts I was pensive to say the least. But as the saying goes, happy wife....etc, etc. I set the grill up for indirect cooking, which means that all the coals are placed on one side of the grill. This allows for an oven like setting on one side, and a hotter than Hades side on the opposite. I started the cutlets on the non-coal side to allow the meat to cook through and melt off as much fat as possible before transferring the porky goodness to the hot side. I kept the lid on the entire time in order to keep the fat from flaring up and burning the meat. Since the meat is so thin, this is not a set it and forget it type of a situation. I didn't allow the meat to sit too long so as to ensure I sort of crisped the cutlet, yet not allow it to burn. In the end, they came out wonderful. It is not the medium to medium rare cuts that I am used to, but they were still moist with crispy edges. Lots of Polish fun!

This paired greatly with warm and tangy fried red cabbage with apples, and it would also go great with fried cabbage,  a perfect Polish veggie salad  or a delicious Polish potato salad.

Happy grilling my hungry friends!











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