From America's Test Kitchen Season 11: Fall Favorites
To most modern-day cooks, “roast pork” equals the lean (and often bland) loin, which is typically gussied up with a glaze or chutney to compensate for its lack of fat (and flavor). We wanted to celebrate the glories of rich old-fashioned pork with the shoulder roast (also called Boston butt or pork butt). This tough cut is loaded with intramuscular fat that builds flavor and bastes the meat during roasting; outside, its thick fat cap renders to a bronze, bacon-like crust. Plus, at around $2 per pound, the shoulder offers value.
First, we salted the meat overnight—a technique we frequently use with large, tough roasts for improved texture and flavor. This helped, but to improve the roast’s flavor even more, we turned to an idea taken from Chinese barbecue pork, where the meat is rubbed with a salt and sugar rub (we preferred brown sugar over white for its subtle molasses flavor and hints of caramel). As we hoped, the sugar caramelized and helped crisp the fat cap, giving it a bronze hue. For an accompanying sauce, peaches, white wine, sugar, vinegar, and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme added to the drippings and reduced delivered on all fronts. To round out the sweetness, we finished it with a spoonful of whole-grain mustard.
Serves 8 to 12
We prefer natural to enhanced pork (pork that has been injected with a salt solution to increase moistness and flavor), though both will work in this recipe. Add more water to the roasting pan as necessary during the last hours of cooking to prevent the fond from burning. Serve the pork with the accompanying peach sauce or cherry sauce (related recipe) or with a sweet-tart chutney.