To Be Determined Journal

To Be Determined is a journal of cycling, adventure and photography, curated by a NYC-based cycling team known as TBD Racing or Team TBD. From criteriums to cyclocross to product reviews and travel diaries, it is all part of the TBD Journal.

Cullen's Cooking Corner #2: Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

Last week we introduced Project 85, the quest that Clay and I are undertaking in the hope of reaching a healthy and happy balance between the twin goals of being a bit faster on two wheels and not making unreasonable ‘real life’ sacrifices to get there (emphasis on the latter as far as I am concerned). If you have followed the team’s Instagram Stories you may have noticed that Clay is off to a most excellent start, already shedding the first few kilograms on the path to 85. In comparison I have been avoiding the scale as I get back in the gym for some much needed strength training that I have, at least for a few weeks, prioritized over tackling my nutrition challenges.

But what are those personal nutrition challenges? If I am honest, in the most basic terms there is a single challenge: an unyielding love of consuming food. Unfortunately ‘quick’ fixes like ‘drink less beer and loose ten pounds’ don’t really apply to my situation because while the nutritional quality of my calories isn’t particularly bad, it is the sheer quantity where I run into problems. For example: my diet currently involves a lot of salads. In a single day. As in I will order not just one salad for lunch, but two. Which is how you wind up tipping the scales at my current weight even while eating reasonably healthy foods.

While I may be avoiding the scale for another week or two (ignorance is bliss) I am already working through strategies to help break through this longstanding mental roadblock of excessive calorie consumption. Namely: meal prep. We wrote about it last year on the journal but meal prep, when done properly, helps fix a lot of issues not just around the quality of your calories but also around my vexation around portion control. And in my recent experience working with a whole variety of Instant Pot recipes, it is also shockingly cost effective compared to running out of the office mid-day to grab a bite for lunch. All of which brings us to our second Project 85 journal entry and my hijacking of “Cullen’s Cooking Corner” to recap what is my current favorite Instant Pot recipe.

Quick, Easy and Delicious Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

My first attempt at Instant Pot cooking was forced upon us by a multi-month gas shutdown in our building. With no stove or oven we turned to an Instant Pot for all of our cooking needs. And as it turns out our first full fledged Instant Pot recipe - pork shoulder - turned out to be our favorite. Why?

  • The prep time is very quick and very easy: perhaps 10 minutes of chopping and preparing ingredients. Right up my alley for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

  • The cost/value equation is great: we have been paying ~$12 for 4 pounds of pork shoulder that, along with a dollar or two of other ingredients, will last for a full week.

  • The finished product is both delicious straight out of the pot and stores well for later reheating, with sandwiches being perhaps our favorite use of the pork.

So without further ado, the second entry in “Cullen’s Cooking Corner” is quick, easy and delicious Instant Pot Pork Shoulder:

Required Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 3 to 4 pounds of boneless pork shoulder, trimmed; cut in 3 to 4 pieces

  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth

  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. On 6-quart Instant Pot, select SAUTE; adjust to normal. Melt butter in insert.

  2. Add pork (already cut into 3-4 pieces) and sear 2 to 4 minutes on all sides. Select CANCEL.

  3. In small bowl, mix broth, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic and salt. Pour over pork in insert. Secure lid; set pressure valve to SEALING. Select MANUAL; cook on high pressure 90 minutes.

  4. After 90 minutes hit CANCEL. Keep pressure valve in SEALING position to release pressure naturally.

  5. When cool enough to handle, shred pork, and toss with 1 cup of the cooking liquid; enjoy


If we get our timing right we will generally enjoy some of pork straight out of the pot as a Sunday night dinner, saving the rest for meal prep over some sort of base and/or to eat as sandwiches throughout the week. Its a small first step along the Project 85 path. Much more to come as I hopefully start to make progress on the journey to my old race weight.