Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homemade Caribbean Pork Butt

A hectic schedule kept me from sampling any barbecue restaurants this week. But I still kept plenty of pig in my diet by cooking a four-pound pork butt from Newman Farm at home. The recipe came from the excellent cookbook All About Braising, by Molly Stevens, that I've mentioned in a past blog on cooking beef short ribs.

I started by carving a crosshatch pattern into the skin on the butt, then marinating it overnight in a combination of fresh garlic, ground allspice berries and coriander seed, thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and fresh-squeezed orange and lime juice.

I usually avoid fruit juice these days due to the high sugar content, but this recipe only uses one-third of a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice for four pounds of meat. One navel orange provided all the orange juice I needed. Two limes provided all the lime juice I needed.

The recipe called for four hours of braising in a cast-iron Dutch oven. I didn't have time for that, so I just left it in a crockpot set on low for eight hours while I was at work Wednesday. The resulting meat was still incredibly tender and permeated with flavor from the spice rub. One nice thing about braising is that recipes tend to be very adaptable and forgiving.

When I got home I drained and degreased the cooking liquid to make a sauce while briefly finishing off the butt under the broiler in my oven with the skin side up so that the skin pieces turned into nice, crispy cracklings. The broiler also gave the outer parts of the a meat nice, charred flavor similar to what I like to have mixed in with my barbecue. I meant to take another picture after it came out of the broiler and added the sauce, but in the heat of the moment I just started eating instead.

For a side I used the recipe for "the world's best braised green cabbage" from the same cookbook. It is an incredibly simple dish that just requires throwing together a handful of common ingredients; cabbage, carrots, onion, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, chicken stock and olive oil; then leaving everything in the oven for a couple hours.

I had to skim a very large amount of fat off the cooking liquid to get to the sauce below. I was going to throw it away when I realized I was dealing with healthy, rendered pork lard from a naturally pastured pig that had been infused with citrus and Caribbean spice flavors. So I saved it and used a generous scoop of it in my cast iron skillet to cook my eggs this morning. They were a perfect match for the couple of slices of Newman Farm's peppered bacon I had with them. So I'll be holding on to my deliciously flavored lard to see what other foods I can improve with it.

UPDATE: I remembered to snap a picture of how the butt turned out when I ate the leftovers.


  1. Oh. My. Word. I should not have read this before breakfast; now I'm starving! This looks/sounds beyond delicious. Thanks for the great idea!

    1. Thank you. You should definitely pick up a copy of the All About Braising cookbook, since the focus of your blog is real food on a budget. The book is full of amazing recipes that are based around some of the cheapest cuts of meat you can buy.