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Jul 2, 2012 02:03 PM

Bone-in Pork Butt: Braise, Roast or slow cooker?

Hi all, I have an approx. 4lb. bone-in whole pork butt that I want to cook for use in a recipe for upscale sloppy joes.

Because the cooked meat will be added to a very distinctive sauce, I do not want to add a lot of seasoning to the initial cooking. I do however, want juicy flavorful meat.

I have searched (Eat Your Books, Epicurious, etc.) but every recipe I am finding either cooks the meat in a sauce, liked pulled pork, or is for cut-up and stewed dishes.

The one recipe that I found that just calls for roasting the pork plain, it only says season with salt and pepper and roast for about 2 hours until brown. That is a little too vague for me.

So if anyone has any recommendations for the best way to cook this, I would appreciate your suggestions.

Should I brine or marinate the meat first?
What internal temp should I be looking for?
Braise it in a dutch oven with some liquid, or just roast. I have a slow cooker, so that might be another option.

The sloppy joe recipe is from John Besh. My SO saw him making this on FoodNetwork on one of those "Best Thing Ever" shows. I would like to serve on July 4th.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. You could smoke it if you wanted to over low heat for a couple of hours (225 or so) and then finish it off in the oven. I'd personally cook it in some liquid myself, but if you are very concerned about not adding flavor, I'd use water.

    Whatever you do, I'd recommend low and slow. And don't brine it or marinade it unless you want those flavors coming to the party. Just use salt and pepper.

    You want to cook pork butt to around 195-200 degrees internally.

    1. Salt and pepper the meat, put it into a roasting pan of some sort (no rack) roast it in the oven at 325 until it tests tender with a fork. At 325, I would predict it will take 3-4 hours. Start checking after two.

      Crank the heat up towards the end if it's getting tender but not browned off enough to suit you.

      Alternately you could put it into a 500 degree oven for 15-20 minutes and then turn it down to 325 for the rest of the cooking time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kengk

        +1 on kengk's idea of starting hot and turning down.. I usually cook boston butt at 225 but it takes a long time.

        I'm not sure it makes a big difference but I've "elevated" pork shoulder over water/vinegar solution so the fat renders into the liquid and the meat stays dry. My brother told me that the vinegar "flavors and tenderizes" but I've never done a side-by-side comparison to test.

      2. Thanks for the replies!

        So, I am aiming for 195-200 finished temperature.

        It sounds like the consensus is to do it in a roasting pan. Kengk says no rack, but e_bone says "elevated". Often when I roast a chicken I will lay down a bed of thickly sliced onion instead of a rack, would that work? Otherwise I can use a rack.

        It will need at least 3-4 hours if I keep it at 325.

        Sounds like I should use some liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan (but not enough to call it a braise). I can use chicken stock, and maybe add some vinegar.

        I don't mind adding some flavor, but I don't want anything that will clash with the final dish. In fact, depending on how much meat I get, I may use it for two different final dishes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pamf

          There's no need to braise it, add any liquid, or let it cook in its own juices. Chicken stock will not flavor the pork any discernible amount, nor will vinegar vapors.

          Simply the pork butt directly on the oven rack with a pan on the rack below to catch any juices.

          Regarding internal temperature, I wouldn't put too much stock in it. The pork will be done when it can be pulled easily with two forks. You can also test for doneness by testing when the bone can be easily removed from the butt.

          Regarding wanting to add more flavor to the cook, any flavor you might want to add can be done easily once you've pulled the pork.