Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend Pork Roast

The slow roasting of a pork shoulder over the course of a weekend afternoon has become a ritual for me. I love having a versatile starting point for a large meal with friends or small meals through the weekend, from shredded pork tacos to a warm pork sandwich with pickled onions, sharp cheese, and plenty of mustard. Oh – and a potato, pork, and greens hash makes a heavenly resting place for poached eggs.

Walk in the door to this smell after a long day and you’ll feel what home smells like.

My go-to spice blend has been Herbs de Provence, however, I’ve begun to stray – branch out, really. Vary your spice blend by your choice of accompaniments: use a Greek blend and serve chunks of pork on a lemony salad with olives and avocado, tomatoes and a little feta and some cucumber. Use an Italian blend and roast some broccoli rabe with garlic and chili flakes, finished with balsamic.

I really do love the Herbs de Provence and would encourage you to try it (perhaps with a potato and fennel gratin and a greens salad!), but sometimes the lavender can be a bit overwhelming – try a mixture of dried thyme, rosemary, and fennel if the lavender isn’t your speed. Whatever blend you choose, just make sure it is salt free. If you can't find a pre-mixed product you like or want to use what you have in the house, try a combination of fennel, basil, oregano, thyme and sage. The cut of pork is non-negotiable -- you will NOT have the same result with a pork loin roast.  It's just too lean for this kind of cooking and you'll end up with a brick, and you'll want to throw it through my window.

Weekend Roast Pork

4.5 lb boneless pork shoulder, sometimes called Boston Butt
.5 oz blended dried spices
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbs coarse kosher salt
1 Tbs crushed black pepper

Remove the roast from the fridge 30 – 45 minutes prior to cooking.

Preheat the oven to 275F.

Pat your pork dry. Salt and pepper all surfaces. Combine remaining spices and crushed pepper and fully coat the roast -- anywhere you see pink, add more herbs mixture. This is what's going to create a flavorful crust as the fat starts to render during cooking.

I like to set up everything I'm going to put on the pork directly on my prep surface in advance, so that once my hands get all porky, I can put my hands on what I need without worrying about contaminating anything in my kitchen.

Roast for 6 ½ hours, basting with drippings 2 -3 times during the last hour of cooking.
Remove from the oven and rest 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

I like to pull chunks from the roast with tongs or a spoon (it's that tender) rather than slice – it’s not going to be pretty any way you cut it.

I roasted this all afternoon yesterday while I was pottering about the house getting ready for my other half to come home after a week away.  When we got home from the airport, the house was cozy and fragrant.  When he was settled in (but by no means unpacked) I made a salad of avocado, tomato, butter lettuce and some leftover baby Yukon gold potatoes and finished it with a mustard and sherry vinegar dressing, which helped balance the richness of the pork.  Bon apetit, indeed!


  1. that boston butt looks lovely all covered up in herbs! love all the ideas you have for what to do with the pork, dave would love the hash.

    1. With just two people in the house, it takes some creativity to get through a whole roast! (But we're up to the challenge...)

      I'm afraid this particular roast isn't going to make it into hash. We had it last night with some braised kale and the very last bits will make tacos tonight. However, I promise to post the recipe next time I make a pork hash!

  2. You can always send some down my way. It looks so incredibly delicious!