Boneless Boston pork roast, also called boneless pork butt roast, is riddled with fat and connective tissue that slowly melt during cooking, producing succulent, tender meat. However, pork has very little natural flavor, so it needs a significant amount of spices and herbs to transform it into a tasty main course. Using a dry or wet rub on the roast brings out the best in the meat.
Dry rubs are made from a mixture of spices and dried herbs. They typically include four types of flavors: salty, sweet, savory and spicy. You can use any type of salt including table, kosher, sea or seasoned. For sweetness, use white or brown sugar. For pork roast, the ratio of sugar should be higher than salt. To add savory taste to your pork roast, add dried thyme, sage, basil or oregano to the rub along with granulated garlic, onion or five-spice powder. Ground mustard and cumin also pair well with pork. Add spiciness to the mix with smoked paprika for a mild peppery flavor. For a bit more heat, use ground white or black pepper. If you like fiery hotness, choose ground cayenne or chipotle pepper.
Wet rubs are typically either water or oil based and are often just dry rubs mixed with one of those liquids. You can also mix the spices and herbs with stock, mustard or wine to step up the taste. Wet rubs stick to the pork roast better than dry ones, and you can layer them thickly to intensify the flavor. Water is best for wet rubs that contain dried herbs. If you choose to use fresh herbs for a wet rub, mix them with oil as it draws out the flavor of fresh cut herbs better than water. Wet oil rubs also keep moisture in the pork roast, prevent it from sticking to the pan and, if you finish the roast off under a broiler, help brown and crisp the surface.
Applying the Rub
Dry off the surface of the pork roast with paper towels. If it has a thick layer of fat, leave it intact but pierce it all over with the tines of a dinner fork to help the rub penetrate into the meat. Scoop up a handful of the rub, either dry or wet, and rub it all over the roast, being sure not to miss any spots. Massage the rub into the meat. You can cook the roast immediately or let it rest in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors deepen.
Once you create a rub that suits your taste, you can make a big batch of it for your next pork recipe. Store dry rubs in a jar with a tight fitting lid. To prevent clumping, dry out some raw rice in a skillet and add it to the rub mixture to absorb moisture. Wet rubs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month if you use dried herbs. If they're made with fresh herbs, the herbs will blacken and may impart the rub with a bitter taste during storage.