Italians have a way of turning an inexpensive cut of meat such as Boston Butt pork roast into a gourmet treat. Your roast will have an Italian flair when you bathe the roast in a marinade for 24 hours, stuff it and then slow cook in the oven until tender and juicy. Serve with a crunchy green salad and fregula, the Italian version of couscous, to soak up the juices from the pork butt roast.
Marinades Make the Difference
The marinade adds flavor to the pork butt and keeps it moist while slow cooking. Choose from tomato juice, white wine or orange juice. Add in Italian herbs and spices such as oregano, basil, thyme, fennel seeds, garlic and onions. Marinade the pork butt in a zipped plastic bag. If the roast is too large for the bag -- pork butt roasts range from 4 to 14 pounds -- marinade in a large glass bowl or non-reactive pan.
Bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salami, spinach, garlic and onions are all options for stuffing the roast. Throw in a handful of chopped basil and a good pinch of fennel seeds. Cut a pocket into the roast that's nearly as wide as the roast but don't cut all the way through. Push the stuffing into the pocket. Tie the pocket shut by wrapping the roast a few times and tying with butcher's twine. The twine also helps the roast keep its shape as it cooks.
Browning is Best
A pale roast just doesn't seem to taste as good as one that is richly brown. Take the roast out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you plan to cook it. It should reach room temperature, so heavier roasts need more time outside the refrigerator than lighter roasts. Brown the roast in an oven-proof pan that has a tight-fitting lid on medium-high heat. After it's been browned on all sides, lower the heat to medium. Throw in a couple of handfuls of onions and chopped garlic cloves. Substitute leeks, scallions or shallots for the onions if you like. When the onions are translucent -- about 5 minutes of cooking time -- add the marinade to the pot. It should be about 1 to 2 inches deep. If there's not enough marinade, add more liquid. Bring up to a boil.
Take It Slow
Long slow cooking gives the Boston butt pork roast time to tenderize. The connective tissues melt and the fat renders out. Cook a 5 pound roast in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Heavier roasts take longer. Check to see if your roast is done by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the roast without touching the bone. It should read 145 F. Cover the roast loosely with aluminum foil. Let the roast set for 30 minutes before serving.
- A Fresh Taste of Italy; Michele Scicolone
- FoodSafety.Gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- Food and Wine: Italian Couscous with Parmesan and Herbs
- The Art of Cooking; Arnold Zabert
- Lidia's Italy: Baked Fregola Casserole
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