Almost all ragus, whether red or white, start with a soffritto—a sautéed mixture that typically includes finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery and sometimes meat. I kept the onion but ditched the carrot and celery since I planned on using a large fennel bulb. The fennel would offer an herbaceous sweetness instead of the earthy, mineral-y flavors of carrot and celery.
I softened my soffritto in a Dutch oven with a little olive oil and then added fresh thyme and garlic, stirring until the heady scents of the aromatics were released. Instead of loosening the fond with the usual white wine, I deglazed with lemon juice and water.
Next, I nestled a 1½-pound boneless pork butt roast—a deeply marbled, relatively inexpensive cut from the upper part of the pig's shoulder that we often use in pork braises—into the soffritto. I transferred the pot to a 300-degree oven, where the pork would spend more than an hour in the 140- to 190-degree zone. In that temperature range, collagen breaks down more rapidly than it does at lower temperatures, turns to gelatin, and enhances tenderness, but the muscle protein doesn't overcook.
Sure enough, about 2 hours later, the meat was supple and fork-tender. I removed the roast from the pot, let it cool a bit, and tried to shred it with two forks. That turned out to be quite a chore with such a large piece of meat, but I ignored that problem for the moment and tossed the sauce with pappardelle—wide egg noodles that would pair well with the chunky ragu—along with a bit of the pasta cooking water and a few handfuls of grated Pecorino Romano.
The large bites of pork were perfect, but the rest of the dish was far from it, with a dry texture and little to no lemon flavor. In the frank words of a colleague, I'd served up “the pork version of a bad tuna casserole.”
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Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.
Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!
John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.