City Palate

The Entertaining Issue - November December 2017

Self-Braising Pork Shoulder, Butt End
Sep/Oct 2008
When we smoke pork butt on Weber Rocky Mountain smokers (known as “bullets”), we rub the butt all over with yellow mustard then sprinkle it liberally with dry rub. The combination makes for a flavourful crust all over the meat. Then, of course, the wood smoke penetrates the meat as it smokes, which is what defines a barbecue. In this version, done in the oven, there is no wood smoke, so the finishing touch at serving time is a slather of really good barbecue sauce. You could also lard the butt with garlic cloves before the mustard and dry rub, which would infuse the meat with garlic. The reason I call it a “braise” is because the pork butt is heavily marbled with fat, so, as it slow-roasts in the oven, it bastes, or “braises” itself.

8 lbs bone-in pork butt with a good layer of fat on top
Yellow French’s-style mustard
A good dry rub, such as Char-Crust (peppercorn and garlic or hickory and molasses)
Apple juice, to spray
Your favourite barbecue sauce, thinned with a bit of  apple juice or Jack Daniel’s

Generously slather the butt all over with the mustard. Sprinkle liberally with dry rub and let sit, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan lined with foil, about 2 hours, to come to room temp and get a nice tacky coating. About 30 minutes before you want to go to bed, preheat the oven to 500°F, or as close to that as you can get.

Place the butt into the oven to sear for about 20 minutes. Remove, allow the oven temperature to drop to 200°F, then pour 1 cup of water into the pan, put the butt back in the oven and allow to cook overnight while you sleep.

In the morning, spray the butt with apple juice and continue to roast for a total of 16 hours, spraying a couple of times with apple juice. Remove the butt from the oven and let it sit to cool a bit. Pour off the considerable amount of fat that has rendered, leave the butt in the pan, and wrap loosely in foil to refrigerate.

About an hour before eating, reheat in a 350°F oven for about an hour. Slice and serve with a slick of warm barbecue sauce. Or pull the tender meat apart, pile on good, crusty buns, and top with barbecue sauce and coleslaw in an approximation of a North Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich. Serves lots!

Meat