In my opinion, one of the best “bang for your buck” cuts of meat is the Boston butt. I’m not sure why they call it a butt, when really it’s a shoulder – one of the many mysteries of cookery. You can usually find one for under $10, and I find that we will get countless meals from it. My go-to way to prepare it was always in the slow cooker, with a ton of BBQ sauce. Which, I love. But, after trying it slow roasted in the oven with lots of Mexican spices…I have a new favorite go-to recipe for this budget friendly cut. The final crisping stage of the pork really seals in the flavor. One shoulder yields a ton of meat. I’ll usually plan for burritos or quesadillas one night, and then tacos later in the week. Would be great on nachos too. Perfect for your table on Super Bowl Sunday!
4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup beer (I like pale ale or IPA)
2 bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
Set oven to 350. Combine salt, chile powder, and cumin. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder with seasonings.
Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.
Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and place on paper towel lined plate to drain. Add beer to pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the bay leaves and garlic and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and place in heated oven.
Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter. Set oven temperature to 425 degrees.
Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, discarding any obvious big chunks of fat. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how brown and crackly you want them. Usually about 20 minutes.
Source: adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris by Dave Lebovitz