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We've Got To Poke That Pork ... In The Butt

By Caroline Clough in Food on Apr 25, 2007 6:31PM

Last week we were pondering what we would be cooking up for our next post when we came across this article and figured if Mario Batali recommended it then we should give it a shot too. We were intrigued by the eight hour, mainly hands-off, roasting method and thought we could probably handle it. We did not, however, follow Batali's recipe. Instead we paged through our cookbooks and perused a number of online recipe sites before coming up with our own combination of ingredients for a flavorful and truly tender piece of pork butt. We think it turned out pretty well. Our guests, many of whom have been the guinea pigs for many other Chicagoist meals, said that this might have been our best offering so far. Of course, they could have been flattering us while demurely dropping the meat into a napkin on their laps ... but we don't think so.

As we mentioned, this dish has an 8 hour cooking time. As the Esquire article mentions, pork shoulder (or butt) is a tough cut of meat that improves with a slow cooking time that allows the fat to melt into the meat thus providing an utterly tender, moist meal. Other than the long cooking time it's a very easy dish. We served our meat with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and broccoli.

What You Need:

1 paring knife
1 food processor
1 dutch oven (with lid)
1 baster

1 4 pound, bone-out, pork butt (shoulder)
2 tablespoons vegetable (or other) oil
9 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons dry rosemary
3 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 cup water
flour for the gravy

What You Do:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Using your paring knife, stab your pork butt all over...this will allow your marinade/paste access into the meat thus intensifying the flavor.

3. In the food processor combine the oil, sugar, vinegar, garlic and spices until they form a (rather wet) paste.

4. Slather your pork in the paste on every side. Place the pork in your dutch oven then on into the refrigerator for an hour's worth of marinating.

5. Once your pork has had some time with the marinade take it out, add the 1/4 cup water and put it in the oven.

6. Let the meat cook for 30 minutes at 400 degrees then turn the oven's temperature down to 200 degrees.

7. Cook for 8 hours, occasionally turning (we'd say each side should have some face-up time) and basting with the water/pork juices. The internal temperature of the meat, when your hours have gone by, should be at least 150 degrees, though 160 is preferable. Technically pork is "overdone" if its internal temperature is more than 160 but with this recipe we found that it's not as important if it's gone over that mark.

8. Take your meat out of the oven and allow to sit for twenty minutes.

9. While the meat is sitting, take the liquid at the bottom of the pan and place into a medium sized skillet. Over medium heat slowly whisk a small amount of flour into the liquid until it thickens to the consistency you like for gravy.

10. Cut the meat as thin or thick as you like and serve.