Cast Iron

Sweet and Savory Overnight Roast Pork

May 26, 2014
9 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

Pork is not the meat I turn to first when I'm cooking meals at home. We eat a lot of bacon and Clara's favorite pasta sauce is made with sausage, but with the state of pork these days, whole cuts tend to be tougher and more dry than any of us has patience for. So I usually avoid them. This all changed recently when I befriended the pork guy at our Sunday farmers market.

I was flirting with the idea of making a pork stew instead of one of my usual lamb or beef varieties, so I approached the stand and asked the man there what would work best for stew. He heaved a four-pound boneless butt out of his cooler, assuring me that it was beautifully marbled and would be perfect.

What I didn't realize until I got home was that the pork butt was frozen solid. There was no way it was going to thaw in time for me to make a stew that night, so I put it in the fridge and decided I'd deal with it later.

The next night I got home from work late and although the pork butt was no longer frozen, I knew I didn't have enough time to cook and cool a stew before bed. The hole in the fridge where there should have been a nice big batch of pork stew for the week was starting to make me anxious, and I had another night out the following evening.

I decided to go rogue. I thought I'd heard somewhere you can cook a pork roast overnight in the lowest of low ovens and have it turn out brilliantly. A quick Google search yielded some promising results, like this recipe from Jamie Oliver: https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/recipes-cookbooks/recipes/a927/jamie-oliver-slow-roasted-pork-recipe/. His calls for an 11-to-13-pound shoulder roast on the bone, but with a little tweaking I was pretty sure I could make this work.

I wanted something less Mediterranean and more barbecue, so I stirred together a thick paste of chopped garlic, brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard, thyme, black pepper and a little chipotle powder and slathered the pork with it after salting it liberally. I gave it a quick blast in a scorching oven to get some caramelization going, then turned the oven down as low as it would go. I turned off the lights and went to bed.

The next morming, we woke to an intoxicating garlic-sugar-pork aroma, and the pork looked gorgeous–it was burnished and crisp on the outside, and when I went at it with two forks, it virtually fell apart on its own. I packed some up with a soft roll and some slaw for Jonathan's lunch. Clara and I had it on its own, and then with pasta later in the week.

I've now made this at least five times. Love, thy name is pork butt. —Merrill Stubbs

  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 8 hours
  • Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 1 4-ib boneless pork butt (from a butcher you know, well-marbled, and with a good layer of fat on top)
  • 3 pinches or more Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle (plus more to taste)
  • 3 pinches or more freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Tie the pork butt with twine in several places so that it cooks evenly. Salt it generously all over and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
  2. 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.
  3. Heat the oven to 475° F. 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. 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!)
  4. Leave the pork in the oven overnight, for at least 6 hours and up to 8. When you wake up in the morning your house will smell intoxicating, and the pork will be ready to shred and pack up for lunches for the whole family -- all you need is a soft roll and some coleslaw or pickled fennel, or a big pile of mashed potatoes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Annette
    Annette
  • IngridHeather
    IngridHeather
  • ezachos
    ezachos
  • pimimond
    pimimond
  • Nancy McDermott
    Nancy McDermott

99 Reviews

Annette May 16, 2021
So....after so many reviews I did worry.
I used a 9x13 aluminum insulated cake pan. Nothing special. Put in a rack to keep roast elevated. Didn’t pull out to rest at room temperature 2 hrs ahead. Started at 9 am. Finished at 5 pm. Perfect! 8 hrs total including 15 mi utes at 475°. Followed other directions, but switched to 250° F convection to finish roast. It was a 6 lb bone in shoulder roast. No skin cap. just thick fat. Cooked 8 hrs total. No covering. Totally awesome. Fork twisted easily from side. Glaze was yummy. Meat just pulled out easily. I’ll repeat for sure!
 
kwokie29 January 26, 2021
I found this recipe in A New Way to Dinner cookbook. The directions say to cover the roast after the initial caramelization step. I wonder if this is based on all the discussion from these reviews. My oven is preheating right now, and I think I'm going to try roasting in my Lodge dutch oven covered at 200. In the morning, I guess I'll remove the lid and see if it needs to go uncovered to get crispy.
 
kwokie29 January 27, 2021
I ended up roasting overnight for 8 hours with the lid on. In the morning, I checked the internal temperature (185). I decided to take the lid off and see if it could dry out a bit. The internal temp decreased to 175 after 45 minutes, so I just put the lid back on to make it a total of 10 hours in the oven.
Ate it later in the evening and it was just OK. It needed more salt for sure. Overall, I feel like Sabina and was disappointed. It wasn't bad, but there are already so many tasty (and easier) ways to make pork shoulder that I don't need this recipe in my collection.
 
Sabina June 12, 2020
I tried it again and again, I was disappointed. Maybe it was that the lead up to the recipe was just so enthusiastic. But my kitchen did not have an enticing scent to it. The glaze was good but not mind-blowing. You really have to watch your cut of pork and oven temp. It is OK but sadly has not met expectations.
 
Sabina July 21, 2019
Slightly disappointed. . . I loved the glaze, but it didn't permeate into the roast as I was hoping. And the meat was not as fall off the bone as I was hoping. But will definitely give this another try after verifying the oven temp.
 
Linda M. January 1, 2019
Made this for New Years Day!! The smell is intoxicating throughout the night!! Love love love this!! Will be making it again!! Thanks so much!!
 
IngridHeather October 24, 2018
I have a bone-in pork butt I got from Butcher Box. Can this work with a bone-in roast?
 
The P. October 24, 2018
Absolutely.
 
Janice May 3, 2018
Any suggestions on how to make this for 80 campers/staff?
 
Mark O. May 5, 2018
EASY but it takes some work. As Troop Chef for more than 1 Boy Scout troop And a member of the Council Cook Team, If you are truly camping:
1. Figure out how many pork butts you need.
2. Get 1 cast iron Dutch Oven per butt. Prepare the butts as per recipe. Put into the Dutch oven, cover the top with heavy duty tin foil and place lid on top of tin foil. This creates a very good seal.
3. Old School Pot Hole Cooking Method (This method pre-dates the Revolutionary War) - Dig a long wide hole big enough to comfortable place all you Dutch Ovens with plenty of room to spare. (The bigger the hole the better. Reserve the dirt.) Line hole with rocks. Build a fire on logs over the hole. Keep the fire going until the hole is filled with ashes, cinders, and coals. When the hole is filled dig out holes in the ashes, place the Dutch Ovens in the ash holes, cover the Dutch Ovens with ashes. Cover the ashes with the dirt you save from digging the hole.
4. Leave the pork in overnight or at least 8 hours or just leave in the ground until you get ready for dinner. (Believe me, the residual heat will keep the food cooked and warm.)
5. Dig out the Dutch ovens and remove meat, shred and serve. Guaranteed done to perfection.
NOTE - Cooking method may be found in very old recipes for Pot Hole Beans. Those come out just Yummm! too. Just a variation of Hawaiian luau pig cooking, New England clam/lobster bake, etc., etc.
 
ezachos November 21, 2017
Making me think my oven’s having temp troubles: the meat wasn’t even close to being tender and pullable, and while the outer crust was very tasty, it was also HARD. Add that the delicious rub barely infused the meat at all...so bummed!
 
pimimond July 12, 2017
Made this exactly as directed but with a 5 lb bone-in roast with a nice ring of fat on it. It never wanted to get about internal temp of 170 but it smelled so great we sliced it up and ate it anyway. I made a reduction sauce with the pan juices, rendered of the fat, chicken broth, and marsala. The next day, heated again, it got more tender and made amazing sandwiches. I took what was left and am very slowly simmering a tomato-based pasta sauce with carmelized onions, white wine, and chicken broth. I'm going to serve it with paparadalle topped with grated parmesan. I'll let you guess how THAT will turn out! Merrill, I love all your recipes!
 
Bill M. November 30, 2018
You hit 'The Stall' something that is very common in smoking dense meats. The stall can be accelerated by a few methods but can still take some time. I have had brisket take 10-12 hours through a stall before it starts to raise the meat's temperature. If you want it "pull apart", you will need to hit 200+ internal meat temp. Anything below that and it will be slicing (I would make sure that internal temp hits at least 185 for slicing) and let the meat rest 30-40 minutes under foil (preferably in a cooler with towels filling in the air gaps inside cooler. Resting the meat will allow all juices to redistribute. No resting: you probably had most of the juice on your cutting board. Your reheating the following day allowed the meat to reach a higher temp (smaller cut of meat cooks faster and you probably had this on higher temp to re heat).
 
Dflip January 23, 2017
Chipotle will give you more heat and a smoked flavour. There is also smoked paprika which will give you the smoked flavour, but with the same heat as paprika. You are adding so little here, I don't think it will make a big difference.
 
Nancy M. January 23, 2017
I was wondering if this version of the recipe i.e. with chipotle vs the paprika (from the cookbook) would work for pork tacos? There is another pork recipe specifically for tacos in the cookbook that uses a different combination of spices. Just unsure what to do.
 
The P. October 30, 2016
I used a boneless rolled skin on leg. I scored the skin before I put the marinade/glaze on it. I, then, pulled it with two forks and stored it in the fridge. When I wanted to serve it I re-heated it in a sauté pan with some homemade BBQ sauce. I served it on toasted brioche rolls with red cabbage coleslaw and Brie. It was amazing!!
 
Lindsey August 23, 2016
I've made this recipe multiple times with success and have also adapted it to a more "lazy" way of cooking. I tend to use 9lb bone in pork shoulders, cook only at 200, double the rub and I leave the lid on the Dutch oven when cooking. Falls apart and is delicious. I reheat leftovers in the drippings.
 
shortnsweet April 1, 2019
how long do you cook it for that size? i'm sizing up for a dinner party and would love to know!
 
AntoniaJames January 4, 2016
I made this recently. Overall, people liked it, but the next time I make it, I'm going to use the "reverse sear" method in this Genius recipe: https://food52.com/recipes/32581-lynne-curry-s-prime-rib-with-mustard-and-herb-butter (which recipe I used for our Christmas roasted beef).

Searing first and then slow cooking this pork roast resulted in somewhat bitter pan juices, which I'd like to avoid. Stay tuned. ;o)
 
Jennifer O. December 24, 2015
Any recommendations for how to store and then reheat this if I won't be serving right away? I plan to have it cook overnight and be done with it by the morning but won't be serving until the evening. Thanks!
 
Mark O. December 24, 2015
Instead of cooking it overnight, I cook it during the day so it will be ready for dinner. If you have to cook it overnight, wrap it tightly in heavy duty tin foil and refrigerate. Reheat in the foil at a low temp.
 
Amy February 5, 2016
When we reheat our pork roast, we place in a large pan, sprinkle with apple juice and like Mark cover with aluminum foil and reheat at a low temp.
 
Lorenzo December 20, 2015
not my favorite it was tasteless and dry too bad i tried it at a dinner party!
 
bakedziti November 13, 2015
Ok. It's 6:30 a.m. 8,5 hours of cooking. Looks and smells great. But don't want this for breakfast. What can anyone suggest as far as reheating this beautiful hunk of meat for consumption in the early evening?
 
SD November 9, 2015
I want to make this, but the butcher that I know, is not well-marbled, with a good layer of fat on top! :)
After reading all of these reviews, I'm dying to try this recipe.
 
gabby November 7, 2015
Flavor was bang on. Butcher deboned a roast for me (out of boneless) so it needed extra twine. I left it in the oven for about seven hours because 5am is a ridiculous time to get up and deal with a butt. (Has anyone tried the skin crisp with this method? I've done the serious eats recipe a few times and its awesome ... http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/12/ultra-crispy-slow-roasted-pork-shoulder-recipe.html)
 
kwade October 5, 2015
Hi. I would slice thin and put on a well-buttered soft roll. And, you could add to the slow cooker with a low sodium, good quality teriyaki sauce and a cup of water, until it will pull apart.