Braised Pork Butt with Port and Prunes
Unlike the pork loin, the Boston butt, or pork shoulder butt, is ideal for long, slow, moist cooking. Prunes, like many fruits, complement the sweet and succulent flavors of pork, and port wine provides a nice undertone of sweetness and fruit. We recommend you use a rolled and tied boneless butt since it is easier to carve and serve, but a bone-in roast will do as well. We like to serve this dish to company, with Brussels sprouts braised with chestnuts and an earthy red Burgundy from the Cotes de Nuits or a full-bodied Oregon Pinot Noir.
- Flavor Step
- Combine all the herbs and spices for the rub in a small bowl and rub generously all over the meat.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- One 4-to-6-pound boneless or bone-in
- Boston butt or pork shoulder butt, trimmed
- of most external fat
- 2 cups fresh or frozen pearl onions,
- partially defrosted if frozen
- 1 cup finely chopped leeks (white part only)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 cup port wine
- 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- 1/4 cup Armagnac, Slivovitz
- (plum brandy), or other brandy (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat the oil over high heat in a heavy casserole or Dutch oven just large enough to hold the pork. Brown the pork on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot and add the pearl onions, leeks, and carrots. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the port and stock and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the prunes, the optional brandy, and the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Put the pork back in and spoon some of the prunes and vegetables over the top. Cover the pot with foil and fit the lid on tightly.
Place the pot in the middle of the oven and cook for about 1-1/2 hours, or until the pork is quite tender and registers 160 degrees to 165 degrees F on an instant-read meat thermometer. Remove the pork from the pot and cover loosely to keep warm. The final temperature of the meat after resting for 10 minutes or so may read 170 degrees to 175 degrees F.
Skim off any fat from the cooking juices. Remove 6 of the prunes and purée them in a food processor or blender. Stir the purée back into the sauce to thicken it. Remove the bay leaves and taste the sauce for salt and pepper. Remove the strings from the pork if necessary, and carve into 1/2-inch slices. Serve with the sauce and prunes and vegetables.