No. 223: Sweet & Savory Overnight Roast Pork

I had seen this recipe floating around Food52 and bookmarked it. It sounded wonderful - like a sultry cousin of my Mamaw's famous Italian beef recipe that I adore.

Then a friend mentioned she recently made a killer overnight roast, and I knew the two must be the same. In that moment, I committed to making this delightful dish.

Ingredients

Serves 8 to 10
4-pound boneless pork butt (with a good layer of fat on top)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper

To make

Tie the pork butt with twine in several places so that it cooks evenly (or have your butcher do it like I did). Salt it generously all over and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

In the meantime, combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, mustard, thyme, garlic and chipotle powder in a small bowl. Add a few pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper.

Heat the oven to 475 degrees. When the pork is at room temperature and the oven is hot, smear the sugar, mustard and garlic mixture all over the pork, concentrating a good amount of it on the top of the roast where the fat is.

Smeared and ready

Nestle the pork fat-side-up into a roasting pan or cast iron baking dish just big enough to hold it, and put it in the oven. When you start to smell garlic and sugar burning, and after no longer than 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 200 degrees. Do not open the oven door to peek! Just let it go, let it go...(the Frozen song begins playing in your head).

Leave the pork in the oven overnight, for at least 6 hours and up to 8.

Final pork

Let cool a few minutes, then remove the twine.

Twine removed

Be amazed that it is already falling apart. Shred with two forks and then pack for lunch or store for dinner later!

The results

First, let me describe to you the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night to a house smelling of thyme, sugar and garlic - all roasting pleasantly away in your kitchen. It's incredibly satisfying. Almost as wonderful as having a days worth of cooking done before 7am!

I won't pretend I slept well, mind you. I get really worried about leaving an oven on all day or all night. I woke up about every two hours to make sure we were alive. But the tender, delectable end result was worth it.

Shredded pork

Now, for the big debate. Do you cover the pork for 6-8 hours or do you leave it uncovered?

After reading all the comments under this recipe, and hearing that several had found that the pork wasn't quite shreddable after being uncovered all night, I left the lid of my Dutch oven on. At 7 1/2 hours, I took the cover off and let the outside crisp up for 30 minutes or so.

Ultimately, my pork could not have been more tender. It was falling apart in the twine. I think I would repeat this method again, but maybe take the lid off at 6 hours? Could be fun to play with.

But seriously folks, make this. Soon. I am having a lot of trouble not eating it for breakfast.

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