Roast Pork Help
I tried making a roast pork tonight for the first time. Used a pork butt with a nice ratio on meat and fat, inserted some garlic cloves into some cavities I pierced, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled fresh rosemary and chopped parlsey over the meat, roasted in a 375 oven for 30 minutes per pound. Served with a pan gravy I made from the bits left in the roasting pan.
The good, the meat was tasty, juicy and the pan gravy was a nice touch. The bad, the meat didn't have a nice browned crust and while not tough, wasn't fork tender the way I've eaten it at diner type places. So what did I miss. Any suggestions from you roast pork experts out there? I'd appreciate any help you could provide. Thanks.
For pork butt, I toast some fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and dried chilies then bash them up in my mortar. I add some kosher salt and garlic powder then give the butt a good rub. Before I go to bed, I set the oven to 250*, place the butt in a covered dutch oven put it in the preheated oven and go to bed. When I get up the next am, I turn off the oven and leave the butt in it to come to room temp. until sometime in the afternoon. Then I'll defat the juice and either leave the roast out to be reheated in the defatted juice later that day or refrigerate until I'm ready to serve. Once reheated, we'll usually pull the butt apart for pulled pork, although slicing it works just as well. The rub gives it a nice crust and the long cooking makes it fall apart tender. Just resist the urge to open the oven and peek.
Google "Zuni Mock Porchetta".
Zuni is a restaurant in San Francisco, their chef has a cookbook, titled The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Porchetta is a whole roasted pig, Mock Porchetta is Zuni's way to get the same results using a 2.5-3 lb roast.
The Zuni Cookbook was a Cookbook of the Month on this site, you might find some posts if you use the search function and google will also turn up some hits from Chowhound.
Ourhomeworks gives good advice re browning. I typically cook a pork butt at 250 to 275 for eight to ten hours, so the not-so-tender result you experienced is likely due to not cooking long enough. Plus 375 is much too high a heat for butt - it needs to cook long and slow (and covered) to break down the connective tissues and give you that falling-off-the-bone tenderness. Cooking it covered of course will typically not give you a browned crust; I don't expect that unless I smoke it outdoors.
I agree with jannie - you won't get a nicely crispy crust unless you smoke it, but you can still preserve some of the browning effect by give it a nice sear. You definitely cooked it at too high a heat - try 275. Pork butt is an amazing thing - if you cook it slow, the magic happens while the meat is between 160 and 190, then it's pretty much ready to take out while it's in the low 200's.
Another possibility is that you cut into it too soon - make sure you let it rest for at least 30 min before you touch it.
I will agree that for the most moist and tender meat on a pork shoulder, picnic, butt or fresh ham....low and slow roasting is the only method that will achieve the results desired. Higher heat does not allow the process to break the meat down. Full roasts generally take 11-12 hours total time....half portions a minimum of 5, but the test for me is to pull at the meat. When it releases easily, it ready and done.
I would further add that I prefer to roast at an even lower temperature of 225 degrees...but I find browning the roast at the beginning only dirties up the stove.....since you are cooking for such a long time and at low temperature...it has little effect in losing any moisture in the meat. If you roast has skin and you are looking for the crisp cracklings, here is one tip I have found works well. Score the skin with a razor blade into a criss cross pattern....and roast for the first half of cooking time (5-6 hours) skin side down. This allows the skin to be softened in the roast own juices....flip the roast over and cook for the remaining time period. During the last 15 minutes, or at the end of roasting, crank up the heat to high(450* plus) and the cracklings will crisp up nicely and a crust will form
I usually cook full roasts, so 10-12 hours is the amount of time that the roast takes to be where I want it to be. For cooking for such a long time, I usually put the roast in the oven before I go to bed. If I am unable to flip halfway through, another family member usually handles the step. Even if the roast will not be served until dinner time, the roast is held at 100* for up to 5-6 hours while other items are prepared.
BTW. this is the method commercial kitchen uses...like the diners you mentioned. Full yields, less shrinkage, best results and time management.
I typically brown the pork on the stovetop before putting it in the oven to roast - that should give you the browned crust and also help seal in the juices that add tenderness. I just looked at my Pork & Sons cookbook and it provides a very similar recipe to what you describe(including the browning over the stovetop) and it roasts the meat at 250F. I normally cook it closer to 300/350F, but that could help the meat cook a little slower. They also wrap it in bacon before browning and roasting. Good luck & hope this helps!