At first blush, the bad reputation pork butt has among the health-conscious seems deserved. It is loaded with fat and connective tissue and most commonly comes in large pieces (6-8 pounds). On the flip side, pork butt, also known as pork shoulder or Boston butt, can be found for very low prices, often less than $1 a pound. These all make pork butt a favorite for BBQ, but can we make it into a healthy, flavorful dish. Absolutely!
The reason grillers like pork butt is because all the fat keeps the meat tender during the long cooking process needed to break down the connective tissue. To make it healthy, however, the first thing we are going to do, after removing the bone and cutting the butt into 2-3 pound pieces, is remove all the excess fat. So how will we keep the meat moist during the 2 hours or so that we’ll be cooking? Braising, that’s how. With braising, we can keep the meat moist, cook off any remaining fat and create some flavorful sides. One serving of the meat with potato, carrots, onion and sweet potatoes, without any braising liquid, works out to 226 calories with 6 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber.
When I prepare this, I cook all of the meat and set aside the 1 or 2 roasts, along with braising liquid, for future meals. Check out my my pork butt “redux.”
Braised Spicy Pork Butt
Makes 8 servings
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 2-2.5 pound boneless pork butt
Your favorite spice rub
1 large onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup bold red wine
1 pound small red potatoes, peeled
4 large carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch segments
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 cups low-salt chicken stock
Coat pork butt with rub on all sides, pressing it into the meat. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F
In a large Dutch oven or braising pan, heat oil over medium high heat and brown the meat until crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Add onions, salt and pepper and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Stir in tomato paste, add potatoes, carrots, sweet potato and parsley. Fill with just enough broth to cover the veggies and return the beat to the pan.
Cover tightly and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 2 hours, and the meat has reached a temperature of 160 to 165.
Remove from the oven and set pork aside to rest, covered loosely with tin foil, about 10 minutes. Carve and serve with vegetables.
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