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Wine-braised Boston Butt: A French Riff


Wine-braised Pork Butt

Wine-braised Pork Butt

Copyright 2012 Kevin D Weeks
This wine-braised Boston butt is based on a French daube (stew) but I didn't want stew. I've been craving a butt roast to plays games with so I wanted a whole roast slowly braised instead of the stew-sized pieces typical of a daube. Nevertheless, like a daube, I marinated the meat for 24 hours in red wine, chopped vegetables (mirepoix), fresh herbs and spices. The meat is then slowly cooked in the marinade at low temperature – I use a Dutch oven in the oven but you could also use a slow cooker. You will have leftovers, but that's what I want and it will freeze beautifully. (Larger image.)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes


  • 2/3 bottle red wine (I like a Zinfandel)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, rolled between your palms
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, rolled between your palms
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. whole juniper berries, cracked*
  • 2 tsp. whole peppercorns, cracked*
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh orange peel
  • 1 md. onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped,
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped and leafy-greens reserved
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 1/2 – 3 lb. bone-in Boston butt or pork shoulder**
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, bacon fat, or lard


1. Combine all ingredients except pork (including celery greens) in a 1 gallon zippered bag. Shake (carefully) to combine ingredients. Add pork and marinate for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.

2. Every 4 hours (skip this while you're sleeping) remove from fridge, remix, and reposition it fridge to make sure all meat is exposed to marinade.

3. Four hours before serving heat oven to 250 degrees if using a Dutch oven or high is using a low cooker. Remove meat from bag (reserving marinade) and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper.

4a. Heat oil or fat in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides. Add marinade, bring to a boil and scrape up browned bits (fond). Note: the liquid should come halfway up the roast, if not add more wine.

4b. If using a slow cooker, heat oil or fat in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides. Place roast in cooker. Add marinade to skillet, bring to a boil and scrape up browned bits (fond). Add to cooker. Note: the liquid should come halfway up the roast, if not add more wine.

5. Cook 4 hours. Remove from pot and let roast rest covered with foil.

6. Pick bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and celery green out of marinade.

7. Cut meat into large pieces (it will be too tender to slice). Drizzle with cooking jus and serve with crusty bread.

Leftovers: Add shredded meat to remaining sauce. Serve over smashed potatoes, polenta, or rice. Or make the equivalent of a French dip by heating and then stuffing in a hoagie bun.

*Note 1: Crush both juniper berries and peppercorns by placing in a small zippered bag and pounding with a meat mallet, heavy skillet, or even an empty wine bottle (be careful with the last one).

**Note 2: Boston butt is actually a shoulder cut. It's called a "butt" because it used to be cured and packed in wooden barrels (butts) for shipping. And while 3 1/2 pounds may seem like a lot of meat, it's not in this case.

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