You Want Me To Cook Pork Butt
I adapted this Braised Pork Butt with Port and Prunes recipe from one I found in a favorite cookbook, The Complete Meat Cookbook. Their recipe suggests applying an extra "Flavor Step" by using an Herb and Mustard Rub. I only seasoned it with salt and pepper before braising and the results were still spectacular.
Braising is one of my favorite cooking techniques especially when the weather gets a little cooler. Best of all it is extremely easy cooking technique to learn with no fear of messing up.
I cooked this in our outside wood-burning oven overnight after making pizza for family and friends. Once hot and the wood burns down to ashes, the clay oven remains at about 200°F all night and is perfect for cooking braises like this in my Le Creuset or cast iron Dutch oven. They both work well but I love the look of the Le Creuset.
The one thing you need to be aware of with Le Creuset, they have plastic-like knob handles attached to the cover. Even though the oven stays at 200°F and there is very little likelihood of melting that knob, I still take it off and wrap the cover with foil to keep the heat from escaping the screw hole.
Most likely you will make this recipe in your oven and won't need to cook it overnight like I did. It should take about 1 ½ to 2 hours depending on your oven and the type of Dutch oven you cook it in.
I have never tried this recipe in a crock-pot but I'm sure it would be similar to how I slow cooked it in my outdoor oven. The temperature of a crock pot is much lower than a conventional oven so it takes longer to cook.
Ideally, you want to cook the pork until an instant thermometer registers about 175°F. This is no problem if you decide to cook it in a crock-pot or outdoor oven like mine.
If you cook it in a Dutch oven in your conventional oven, cook the meat to 165°F and let it rest 10 to 15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 175°F.
What The Heck Is Pork Butt?
It's not what you are thinking. The rear end of a pig is called the Ham. It's where fresh ham comes from as well as smoked ham. Pork butt, most often called Boston Butt or Boston Shoulder Roast comes from the "shoulder" area of a pig. (on a cow, it's the "chuck")
The Boston Butt comes from the top end of the shoulder and weighs about 5 to 6 pounds. Because it has more fat than the popular loin cut, it also has more flavor and is less likely to be overcooked.
I've purchased Boston Butt with and without the bone. When braising, I like bone-in because it adds more flavor and depth to the braising liquids that becomes your sauce.
Braised Pork Butt with Port and Prunes Recipe
- 5½ pound Pork Boston Butt (have your butcher trim excess fat)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil virgin
- 2 cups pearl onions we used frozen but I'm sure peeled fresh would have been better
- 1 cup leeks finely chopped, remember to only use the white part of the leek
- ½ cup carrots finely chopped
- 1 cup port wine
- ½ cup beef stock
- 1 cup prunes pitted
- ¼ cup brandy I didn't use
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Season the pork with salt & pepper.
- On top of the stove, heat your Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot and about to smoke, brown the pork on all sides. (If you do try this in a crock-pot, you still want to do this step of browning the meat. Use a large fry pan.)
- Once the meat is browned, remove it from the pan and pour off most of the excess fat but leave a tablespoon or two.
- Add the pearl onions, leeks and carrots and cook until the vegetables brown a little and begin to soften. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Carefully add the port to deglaze the pan and scrape up any browned bits of pork that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Now add the stock, pitted prunes and bay leaves to the Dutch oven and bring the liquids to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat, add the pork back to the oven and spoon some of the prunes and vegetables over the top of the meat.
- Place a layer of foil over the top of the Dutch oven, cover with lid, and stick it into the oven to cook for about 1½ hours. This should take it to the 165ºF before resting. Remove the pork from the pot and cover with the foil to keep warm.
- The original recipe calls for skimming "off any fat from the cooking juices". Most recipes I read say this but I always find it difficult to do. I prefer to stick the liquids into a plastic container and refrigerate. After an hour or so, the fats congeal at the top and I spoon them off. I guess if you are going to serve this right away, this technique won't work and you will have to do your best skimming the fat from the juices.
- Remove the two bay leaves if you can find them. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.